Whither the Hybrid ?
Pardon us but, where the hell are the other hybrids? There's a waiting list to get a car with really good gas mileage? Come on! There's a line for everything now: a good table, tickets to Avenue Q, a date with Ashley Judd (sorry Nicole!). Now we have to wait for a hybrid? It's a car! Is there anyone to the rescue?
A reasonable question to ask is, "So, who's doing what in the hybrid arena?" Well, don't ask us for facts, but here's what it seems like:
Japanese: The Japanese manufacturers are working on producing more hybrid models based on existing products. Toyota's talking about making a hybrid Camry and Lexus is going to make a hybrid of the great RX330, called the RX400h. And Honda's making a hybrid of the near-perfect Accord. We might even see a hybrid Nissan Altima sometime in 2006.
Americans: Ha! Haha! Mercy, that's a good one. Detroit seems focused on making more V-8s and, in fact, not a single American-designed hybrid is available for purchase. Ford's finally coming out with a hybrid SUV (the Escape) but it's based on Toyota's technology. Oh, the irony isn't lost on us, either. American manufacturers are so stuck on SUVs that their first hybrid (a gas-saving vehicle) is a SUV (a gas-sucking vehicle). Very fitting. And very lame. Hey Ford! How about a hybrid of the Focus. Do we have to teach Ford everything? What smackies.
Germans: Nein hybrids! Germans haven't made a peep about making a hybrid. Rather, they've focused on refining the old, smokey diesel. And we admire that route. Our friends at the Cars site of About.com have reviewed some of those new diesels: 2004 Volkswagen Jetta and the 2004 Mercedes-Benz E320. The diesels seem quite impressive.
Other European: What's Saab up to? Well, as we all know, there aren't any small European manufacturers on their own any more. So, now owned by GM, Saab is making... That's right! A big ol' SUV. (Sigh) How about Volvo? Surely Volvo's not letting us down. Well, think again. Not only are there no hybrids to speak of, we're pretty sure Volvo's gonna stuff a V-8 into the hulking XC90. So, Saab and Volvo are going the big engine route rather than the smaller, more economical ways we're used to from them.
So, for now, it looks this: The Japanese make the two most usable hybrids for sale: Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. And it looks like it's gonna stay that way for a while. The Germans are making due with renewing technology to use less fuel (and less expensive fuel, to boot). Meanwhile, the Americans are ignoring rising fuel prices and are doing what they do best: making trucks and big cars that use as much fuel as possible. Hey, Detroit, make it so you can't turn the engine off -- that'll make sure we use all the fuel.
Check out our Hybrids for Sale article. We list all 2004 hybrid car models.