AP Reports: Hybrid Vehicles Becoming Mainstream
According to the Associated Press (AP), In one of the clearest signs yet that hybrid cars may be going mainstream, General Motors Corp. plans to offer a variety of the gas-and-electric powered vehicles over the next four years. AP reported that the plan by the automaker includes hybrid models for cars, pickups and sports utility vehicles. According to AP, GM's new strategy sends a message that auto executives are starting to consider energy-efficient hybrids as potentially viable offerings to the mainstream motoring public. AP said for now, the only hybrid versions available in the United States are small cars made by Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. AP further said GM will offer hybrid options on several vehicles, starting later this year with the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups for use in commercial fleets. The hybrid versions of the trucks will increase fuel economy by 10 to 12 percent, the company says. Those same trucks will be available to retail consumers in 2004. If demand is high for all hybrid models, GM says it could produce a million or more a year by 2007, said AP."We're taking a very pragmatic approach, targeting a wide array of popular models with varying degrees of complexity to give consumers a variety of choice," said GM president and chief executive Rick Wagoner. In 2005, GM will begin producing a hybrid Saturn VUE sport utility. It will also include a hybrid option on its forthcoming Chevy Equinox SUV in 2006 and its Chevy Malibu sedan in 2007, AP reported.Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are also planning hybrid models. Recently, officials have tried to offset the high cost of hybrids by allowing buyers in some areas to qualify for a federal tax deduction and local tax breaks, according to AP.