Feature: More hybrids on the way car previews hybrids car culture auto tech
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

By Greg Wilson

Though hybrids represent only a small percentage of total vehicle sales in North America, a recent Deloitte survey of “Generation Y” buyers – those between 19 and 31 – in the U.S., Europe and China, indicates that hybrid sales are about to take off. The survey reveals that Gen Y car buyers, who are expected to purchase 40 per cent of all vehicles in the U.S. over the next ten years, are more interested in purchasing a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle than a traditional gasoline-only vehicle. 57 per cent of Gen Y respondents said they preferred a hybrid, while 37 per cent said they wanted a traditional vehicle. Only 2 per cent said they wanted a pure electric vehicle, citing an aversion to plugging it in each day and a lack of familiarity with the technology.

Vehicle manufacturers are gearing up for the expected surge in hybrid sales with new and redesigned hybrids. In 2011, a half-dozen new hybrid vehicles entered the Canadian market, including the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, the redesigned Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Lexus CT200h, Infiniti M35h, Lincoln MKZ hybrid, and Porsche Panamera hybrid. For the 2012 model year, the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid have been redesigned, and for the 2013 model year, we’ll see a new Ford Fusion Hybrid, Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid and BMW ActiveHybrid5
Here’s a rundown of what’s new for 2012 and 2013:

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
Launch date: end of 2012

An all-new model based on the recently redesigned Jetta sedan, the Jetta Hybrid is expected to use about 20 per cent less fuel than the regular Jetta on average, and offer even better fuel economy in city driving. Under the hood will be a turbocharged 150-hp 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, a first in the industry. The Jetta’s hybrid powertrain will feature a 20 kW (27 hp) electric motor and a compact 220-volt lithium-ion battery behind the rear seat.

VW says the Jetta Hybrid will scoot from 0 to 96 km/h in less than 9.0 seconds and can be driven in electric-only mode for up to two kilometres at speeds up to 70 km/h. When stopped in traffic, the gas engine automatically turns off to save fuel, and to reduce drag, the engine automatically disconnects from the clutch when in electric or coasting modes.

2012 Toyota Prius C
Launch date: March, 2012

Feature: More hybrids on the way car previews hybrids car culture auto tech
2012 Toyota Prius c. Click image to enlarge

The subcompact Prius C is a four-door, five-passenger hatchback that’s about the size of a Toyota Yaris. It uses a smaller gasoline engine and a more compact hybrid powertrain than the regular Prius and gets even better fuel economy, according to Toyota: a combined city/hwy rating of 3.7 L/100 km (76 mpg Imperial). Its1.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque. Combined with a 45 kW (60 hp) electric motor and 144-volt nickel metal hydride battery, the combined output is 99 horsepower (74 kW).

Like the regular Prius, the Prius C has driver-selectable modes Normal, Eco, and EV mode. The EV mode allows the Prius c to be driven on electric power alone for about one kilometre at speeds below 40 km/h.

In Canada, the Prius C’s starting price is expected to be very affordable at only $21,000.

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