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American hybrid carmakers: racing against time In the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Energy collaborated with GM, Ford, Chrysler, to challenge the dominance of their Japanese and European counterparts in the development of hybrid cars. Millions of dollars were put into the huge project of developing American hybrid cars. Ten years after, Ford came up with one model entry into the market, competing against six Japanese hybrid cars. Ford started selling the Escape SUV Hybrid in September of 2004. The other two American hybrid cars manufacturers are having a hard time in delivering their hybrids to the consumer public. Whatever happened to the big American hybrid dream cars can be anybody’s guess. Below is a short update on the status of American hybrid car manufacturers. Ford The public release of the Ford Escape Hybrid was finally materialized in September 2004. The original schedule however, was in 2003. The Ford’s answer to the call for American hybrid cars is a fully hybrid electric vehicle, able to run on its gasoline or its electric motor, or both. This is to meet the requirements set by driver demand to optimize performance and limit fuel consumption. The Ford Escape was first ever among American hybrid cars. It produces less than one pound of smog-forming pollutants for every 15,000 miles. This is more significant when compared with all light trucks average of 105 pounds of smog-forming pollutants for every 15,000 miles. The average for passenger cars, with the same number of miles, is 67 pounds. At present, hybrids, particularly, American hybrid cars are the hottest topic in the U.S. The populace is interested in finding out how hybrid will benefit the environment. , including their small as well as their own budget for fuel. And perhaps, the consumers are interested if the hybrids would really consume small amount of fuel. And Ford is clever enough to make the first American hybrid car as SUV. For obvious reason, SUV is considered as very American, which help the Ford hybrid to sell. The Ford Hybrid has the looks and performance capabilities of a normal car. This allows the American hybrid car to evade the “image-look” problem of Honda’s earlier version of hybrid cars. The improved fuel economy usage of the Ford Escape has also impressed American buyers. To show its commitment to environment issue, has installed 10.4 acres- wide purifying plants in its factory in Dearborn. The plants server as insulators to the building, and is improving the water runoff. Ford is also on its for producing Mercury Mariner Hybrid next year. A hybrid smaller-sized sedan will follow, and a hydrogen-powered Ford Focus is being developed. Daimler-Chrysler When Evan Boberg, an automotive engineer for Chrysler’s hybrid program resigned over the presumed incompetence oof program officers in the early 1990s, many believed that the hybrid program of Chrysler is good as dead. Last year however, Daimler-Chrysler has announced the release of its first hybrid offering in the market, named as the Dodge Ram Contractor Special. As modeled after other hybrid pickups, Dodge Ram will emphasize utility, instead of fuel saving system. The hybrid however, failed to meet the promised mass production, and available only to fleet owners. In a separate interview by a German auto industry paper in 2004, Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler board member, said that it will take five years to come up with a Mercedes hybrid. So before the present decade ends, a new Mercedes will take the road of major cities in the world. General Motors GM began offering American hybrid cars with Sierra and Silverado, for fleet and commercial customers in May 2004. In October of the same year, GM started offering the hybrid pickups to six states: Washington, California, Nevada, Alaska, Florid, and Oregon. The limited offering was based consumer demand for American hybrid cars in those States. GM also produced 2,000 of their Silverado and Sierra hybrid trucks for 2005. For the year 2006, the availability of the hybrid pickup trucks has been expanded to include the entire nationwide demand. Before the present year ends, GM is contemplating a volume of 3,000 units. Aside from a new hybrid vehicle Saturn VUE this year, GM is also offering Chevrolet Malibu for next year, 2007. Next year, GM is also set to come up with two-mode full hybrid. This project is being developed with Daimler Chrysler and BMW. The resulting America hybrid car is expected to have 25 percent more fuel economy than the popular SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon.
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