Hybrids only constitute three percent of the market for cars, but everyone wants to get in on the action as sales are expected to climb.
Volkswagen, which has been one of the more skeptical large manufacturers when it comes to electric cars and hybrids, showed off a hybrid concept called the Compact Coupe that gets 45 miles per gallon at the North American International Auto Show today, according to News.com's Stephen Shankland. While Volkswagen hasn't committed to production, the car is one more tiny step in the direction of electrification. At the Frankfurt Auto Show last year, Volkswagen showed off the E-Up, an all-electric car it will bring to the states in 2013 that comes with an electric scooter, as well as a concept two-seater diesel hybrid that gets 170 miles per gallon. All of these cars come with lithium ion batteries.
Diesel and gas, though, are still the loves of the Volkswagen Group. The organization sold 6.29 million cars last year, a record that was up 1.1 percent from the year before. Sales in part were boosted by clean diesels. Both Volkswagen and Audi sold out of diesels during Cash for Clunkers.
Not to be outdone in the concept department, Hyundai showed off the Blue Will plug-in hybrid (pictured), which looks like something an action hero, or Buzz Lightyear, might drive. It has other hybrids and electrics on the way. Hyundai raised sales eight percent last year and wants to maintain momentum will release seven new car models over the next two years, according to the Detroit Free Press.
More down to earth, Honda said it would deliver a two-seater CR-Z coupe by mid-year that gets 36 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway.
And if you were hoping to land a contract with Ford for batteries for electric cars, it just got tougher. The company now says it will invest $450 million into hybrids and electric vehicles. As part of the plan, it will produce its own battery packs and produce them in a factory in Mexico. Ford will likely buy lithium ion cells from third party manufacturers (General Motors will make the battery pack for the Volt but buy the cells from Compact Power). Still, it's a sign that Ford will keep a good portion of the development in-house.
Ford earlier announced it would invest $550 million to transform the Michigan Assembly Plant from an SUV factory to one that concentrates on electrics and efficient gas cars. That transformation is also done. Ford's first cars with lithium ion batteries come with the Transit Connect, an all-electric deliver vehicle due later this year. It will then follow with an all-electric Focus in 2011.
Although hybrids and electrics only constitute a fraction of the market, some proponents believe they could account for 25 percent of auto sales or more by 2020. Most of those new cars will be standard hybrids. But some all-electric advocates like Elon Musk believe all electrics could account for 10 to 20 percent of new car sales by then.
Earlier in the day, Nissan said AeroVironment would sell the home chargers for the Leaf.