It’s no secret that the world’s automotive companies are looking for ways to stay relevant, while furthering the discussion on environmental sustainability. In the last several years, there have been some big innovations in alternative energy and many expect that in the coming decade, hybrid models will finally become the norm. But what is on the table for this near future? Here is a list of the fifteen most intriguing hybrid models that may see in the coming years.
Mercedes F-Cell Roadster
After having been unveiled in March 2009, the F-Cell Roadster has been referenced by critics as more of a publicity stunt than anything. A combination of Mercedes’ past and future, the F-Cell is more visually intriguing than it is practically useful. Technically-speaking, this roadster is fitted with a 1.2 kW hybrid drive train, which gives it the ability to reach top speeds of 15 mph and achieve an operating range of 217 miles. One hundred and fifty trainees and students at Mercedes Sindelfingen Plant developed this concept hybrid. Though Daimler (Mercedes parent company) has no interest in mass-producing this vehicle, this concept has led consumers to believe that environmentally-sustainable Mercedes are not that farr off on the horizons.
The Antro Solo looks like it came from the pages of a sci-fi graphic novel. But this solar-gas-electric hybrid is not fiction, it is reality. And this Hungarian-designed Antro Solo gets 150 miles to the gallon. The prototype for this vehicle was created out of the lightweight material carbon fiber, which allowed the car to weigh much less than other hybrids. In order to maximize more fuel efficiency, the designers installed solar panels on the roof. Additionally, each passenger’s seat comes equipped with pedals that can power the vehicles generator. This vehicle is set to go into mass production by 2012, and is expected to cost around $20,000
Bright Automotive’s Hybrid Truck
Indiana’s Bright Automotive has decided to venture in a different direction. They have developed and created a hybrid transport vehicle marketed solely for government and commercial use. With the ability to transport up to 2000 pounds, a storage capacity of 180-cubic-feet, and the ability to run on electric battery alone for 30 miles, the IDEA could prove a perfect fit to replace local transport vehicles for the public and private sectors. If the government gives Bright the federal loan money it expects, high volume production of the IDEA will begin in 2012. By 2013, Bright Automotive expects to produce around 50,000 vehicles a year. Currently, the company has a number of potential commercial customers lined up, including Frito Lay, Cox Communications, and Alcoa.
Toyota FT HS Hybrid Concept Car
The FT HS concept for Toyota was originally designed to fill the void left by the ‘Supra’ when Toyota halted its production in 1997. This rear-wheel-drive Hybrid Sports delivers an impressive 400 horsepower. The engine combines a 3.5 liter V6 with a 650v electric motor for power and efficiency. With an expected price tag in the mid-$3oks the FT HS is slated for a late 2009 release.
Buick Business Hybrid
Buick debuted this 7 seat, 5-door hybrid hatchback at the Shanhai Auto Show in April of 2009, which is product of a collaboration between GM and The Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. The Business utilizes li-ion batteries and an improved electric motor to get fuel economy that’s an estimated 20 percent better than what’s available now. This hybrid concept was created solely for the class of executive transport vehicles in China. To conserve energy the Business Hybrid automatically ‘powers down’ when idle, and utilizes a regenerative brake system to conserve fuel. Unfortunately, GM only has plans to release this hybrid in China, and a specific release date is yet is TBD.
Citroen C-Metisse Diesel Hybrid
The C-Métisse is a quadruple gull-wing door sports car with front wheels that are powered by a 205 hp diesel V6, and the rear by two electric motors. Citroen claims the hybrid (which was originally exhibited in 2006) can reach 0-62 mph in 6.2 seconds and top speeds of 155 mph. Regardless of car’s obvious power, the vehicle still averages 42 mpg due to its hybrid technology. While the C-Metisse boasts many appealing attributes that sports car consumers desire, Citroen has yet to name a release date for the hybrid concept.
Toyota 1/X Hybrid
Toyota has taken the concept of green technology literally with the development of a hybrid vehicle made from seaweed. The 1/X is a hybrid-powered car that envisions a future where cars leave a fraction of the environmental footprint they leave now. Weighing less than a third than the Toyota Prius, but boasting as much interior space, the 1/X seeks to revolutionize the way cars are made and what materials are used in the manufacturing process. Although this car is only in the conceptual phases of development, Toyota is looking to implement plant-based plastics for their vehicle fleet in the near future.
Unfortunately, just weeks after the Infiniti Essence made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March of 2009, Infiniti announced it was shelving the project. This news was surprising to the industry, because the release of this vehicle had created huge buzz for the luxury sports car market. Boasting fuel efficiency and mighty horsepower, the Essence combined an electric motor with a twin-turbo 3.7-liter V6 to produce a nearly 600 horse power engine. Though Infiniti announced the demise of the Essence soon after its unveiling, they did publicize the technology developed for the Essence would make it into future models of the M37 and G37.
Toyota A-BAT Hybrid Truck
The Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck may be a loquacious title for this hybrid compact pickup, but the features prove quite innovative. This truck made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in 2008, which in turn created a lot of industry buzz surrounding the environmentally conscious truck market. The A-BAT is supported by a drive train with a four-cylinder gas engine with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive. Because this vehicle is still in the conceptual phase, Toyota is not required to publish fuel efficiency specifications. Regardless, the industry expects that once this vehicle is produced it will boast a much higher fuel efficiency output than the contemporary standard for compact trucks.
In March 2009, Hyundai announced it would be unveiling a new hybrid SUV at the Seoul Auto Show in April. The car features lithium-Ion batteries paired up with a 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine. What makes this car special is the use of “dye-sensitized solar cells” that are utilized in providing power to the vehicle’s 100 kW electric engine. Hyundai has yet to determine a release date for the BLUE-WILL, there are rumors to suggest a 2010 release date.
Ford Diesel Electric Hybrid
The Ford Reflex features a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system that utilizes diesel, electric and solar power. This combination of power was developed to deliver maximum fuel economy, up to 65 mpg, without compromising performance. Even though this concept was orignally released in 2006, this car is still a concept and a definitive release date for mass distribution has yet to be determined.
Mercedes Boxfish Hybrid
Mercedes looked to mother nature for the inspiration for this fuel-efficient concept car. With a body design inspired by the eponymous fish, this concept proved more effecient than imagined. After initial testing, it was found that, due to its aerodynamic and streamlined shape, the car was 20% more fuel effiecnt and had 80% lower nitrogen oxide emissions. As a result, the Boxfish is able to travel 70 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel. The prototype made its debut in 2005, and currently has no release date.
Mindset AG Solar Hybrid
Resembling both the DeLorean, and the newer Dodge Challenger, this hybrid was created by the Swiss company Mindset AG. The ultra-lightweight hybrid vehicle combines an electric motor with a .63-liter V2 engine, the result of this combination allows the vehicle to travel 70 miles on one charge. Furthermore, this car also has mounted solar panels on its rear, and can be recharged by plugging into the wall. Mindset AG has 10,000 units planned for distribution by late 2009. The projected cost for this vehicle will be around $78,000 dollars.
Lightning Hybrid LH4
Having debuted at the Denver International Auto Show in April 2009, the LH4 is the first door less, bio-diesel, hydraulic, hybrid sports car, anywhere in the world. Lightning Hybrids is a small startup that is based in Loveland, Colorado that has designed two 100-MPG hydraulic-biodiesel hybrid cars. Currently, a price point and public release date have yet to be determined for the LH4.
Yamaha GEN-RYU Hybrid Motorcycle
The GEN-RYU combines a YZF-R6 600cc engine with an electric motor that allows the motorbike to handle like a 1,000cc class system. Not only does this bike offer environmental advantages, but advanced safety technologies as well. These functions include: a vehicle-to-vehicle distance warning system that utilizes the latest communications technologies, and a light system that improves nighttime vision when turning at intersections and curves. Though the concept was debuted in 2005, a release date has yet to be determined.