When the hybrid car was first pioneered the reception in the auto industry wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. While the Prius and Insight were happily received by many eco conscious consumers, large numbers of industry insiders were unimpressed. And then came the big crackdown on emissions that forced carmakers across the world to start considering alternatives to the petrol engine. Emissions targets set in the US and EU suddenly meant that carmakers had to evolve to be able to meet them. So, the hybrid became mainstream. But has it ever really found a permanent niche?
Hybrids are not the popular choice anymore
Although hybrids once seemed to offer a solution to the problems that carmakers are having when it comes to reducing emissions, they don’t anymore. In fact, most manufacturers have realised that the development costs of getting these cars on the road are out of proportion to the emissions savings that can be made by designing them.
Many carmakers need to start making real savings to meet emissions targets such as those set in the EU (95g/km by 2020 and 2021). These green goals are about to start being phased in and there is a general sense in the industry that reliance on hybrid models simply isn’t going to help many auto brands to reach them.
Why are carmakers abandoning the hybrid?
Primarily because of the huge fines that are likely to be applied if those emissions targets are not met. There is plenty of evidence of the auto industry taking a step back from the hybrid. For example, several years ago the BMW M3 was intended to be a hybrid but this element has now been abandoned by the carmaker.
Thanks to new technology that has started to become more available in the past couple of years there are now pure electric alternatives that don’t have any emissions consequences. And, for many in the industry, embracing this technology is the only way to avoid those heavy fines.
The technology that means the end of the hybrid
Electric Vehicles (EVs) have come on leaps and bounds in recent years as investment has poured into designing new technology that will help to create the cars of the future. Perhaps one of the biggest issues for the plug-in EV has always been range. However, battery sizes and capacity now mean that this has all changed – the Tesla Model 3, for example, has a range of more than 300 miles and the Chevy Bolt EV hatchback around 230 miles.
Performance has also spiked sharply and we are beginning to see the first high performance all electric vehicles emerge. Plus cost – one of the biggest obstacles to widespread consumer purchasing – is being brought down thanks to advances in technology, with price parity with petrol vehicles expected in just a couple of years.
Hybrids were only ever meant to be a temporary measure and never really offered a viable solution to emissions issues. For consumers and carmakers alike, the future now is genuinely electric.
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