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Hybrid Vehicles

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) combines a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) propulsionsystem with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle, or better performance. A variety of types of HEV exist, hybrid@capitol.jpgand the degree to which they function as EVs varies as well. The most common form of HEV is the hybrid electric car, although hybrid electric trucks (pickups and tractors) also exist.

Modern HEVs make use of efficiency-improving technologies such as regenerative braking, which converts the vehicle's kinetic energy into battery-replenishing electric energy, rather than wasting it as heat energy as conventional brakes do. Some varieties of HEVs use their internal combustion engine to generate electricity by spinning an electrical generator (this combination is known as a motor-generator), to either recharge their batteries or to directly power the electric drive motors. Many HEVs reduce idle emissions by shutting down the ICE at idle and restarting it when needed; this is known as a start-stop system. A hybrid-electric produces less emissions from its ICE than a comparably-sized gasoline car, as an HEV's gasoline engine is usually smaller than a pure fossil-fuel vehicle, and if not used to directly drive the car, can be geared to run at maximum efficiency, further improving fuel economy.

Ferdinand Porsche in 1900 developed the first hybrid (gasoline-electric) automobile in the world. The hybrid-electric vehicle did not become widely available until the release of the Toyota Prius in Japan in 1997, followed by the Honda Insight in 1999. While initially perceived as unnecessary due to the low cost of gasoline, worldwide increases in the price of petroleum caused many automakers to release hybrids in the late 2000s; they are now perceived as a core segment of the automotive market of the future. Worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles produced by Toyota reached 1.0 million vehicles by May 31, 2007, and the 2.0 million mark was reached by August 31, 2009, with hybrids sold in 50 countries. Worldwide sales are led by the Prius, with cumulative sales of 1.43 million by August 2009. The second-generation Honda Insight was the top-selling vehicle in Japan in April 2009, marking the first occasion that an HEV has received the distinction. American automakers have made development of hybrid cars a top priority.


There are two types of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle:

  • parallel hybrid where a gasoline engine and an electric motor can both drive the wheels,
  • series hybrid where the gasoline engine either directly powers an electric motor that drives the wheels or charges batteries that will power the electric motor.


In 1901, while employed at Lohner Coach Factory, Ferdinand Porsche designed the Mixte, a 4WD series-hybrid version of "System Lohner-Porsche" electric carriage previously appeared in 1900 Paris Salon. The Mixte included a pair of generators driven by 2.5-hp Daimler IC engines to extend operating range. The Mixte broke several Austrian speed records, and also won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 with Porsche himself driving. The Mixte used a gasoline engine powering a generator, which in turn powered electric hub motors, with a small battery pack for reliability. It had a range of 50 km, a top speed of 50 km/h and a power of 5.22 kW during 20 minutes.

In 1905, H. Piper filed a US patent application for a hybrid vehicle.

The 1915 Dual Power, made by the Woods Motor Vehicle electric car maker, had a four-cylinder ICE and an electric motor. Below 15 mph (25 km/h) the electric motor alone drove the vehicle, drawing power from a battery pack, and above this speed the "main" engine cut in to take the car up to its 35 mph (55 km/h) top speed. About 600 were made up to 1918.

The first gasoline-electric hybrid car was released by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago in 1917. The hybrid was a commercial failure, proving to be too slow for its price, and too difficult to service.

In 1931 Erich Gaichen invented and drove from Altenburg to Berlin a 1/2 horsepower electric car containing features later incorporated into hybrid cars. Its maximum speed was 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), but it was licensed by the Motor Transport Office, taxed by the German Revenue Department and patented by the German Reichs-Patent Amt. The car battery was re-charged by the motor when the car went downhill. Additional power to charge the battery was provided by a cylinder of compressed air which was re-charged by small air pumps activated by vibrations of the chassis and the brakes and by igniting oxyhydrogen gas. An account of the car and his characterization as a "crank inventor" can be found in Arthur Koestler's autobiography, Arrow in the Blue, pages 269-271, which summarize a contemporaneous newspaper account written by Koestler. No production beyond the prototype was reported.

Predecessors of current technology

A more recent working prototype of the HEV was built by Victor Wouk (one of the scientists involved with the Henney Kilowatt, the first transistor-based electric car). Wouk's work with HEVs in the 1960s and 1970s earned him the title as the "Godfather of the Hybrid". Wouk installed a prototype hybrid drivetrain (with a 16 kilowatts (21 hp) electric motor) into a 1972 Buick Skylark provided by GM for the 1970 Federal Clean Car Incentive Program, but the program was stopped by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976 while Eric Stork, the head of the EPA at the time, was accused of a prejudicial coverup.

The regenerative braking system, the core design concept of most production HEVs, was developed by electrical engineer David Arthurs around 1978, using off-the-shelf components and an Opel GT. However the voltage controller to link the batteries, motor (a jet-engine starter motor), and DC generator was Arthurs'. The vehicle exhibited 75 miles per US gallon (3.1 L/100 km; 90 mpg) fuel efficiency, and plans for it (as well as somewhat updated versions) are still available through the Mother Earth News web site. The Mother Earth News' own 1980 version claimed nearly 84 miles per US gallon (2.8 L/100 km; 101 mpg).

In 1989, Audi produced its first iteration of the Audi Duo (the Audi C3 100 Avant Duo) experimental vehicle, a plug-in parallel hybrid based on the Audi 100 Avant quattro. This car had a 9.4 kilowatts (12.8 PS; 12.6 bhp) Siemens electric motor which drove the rear roadwheels. A trunk-mounted nickel-cadmium battery supplied energy to the motor that drove the rear wheels. The vehicle's front roadwheels were powered by a 2.3 litre five-cylinder petrol engine with an output of 100 kilowatts (136 PS; 134 bhp). The intent was to produce a vehicle which could operate on the engine in the country, and electric mode in the city. Mode of operation could be selected by the driver. Just ten vehicles are believed to have been made; one drawback was that due to the extra weight of the electric drive, the vehicles were less efficient when running on their engines alone than standard Audi 100s with the same engine.

Two years later, Audi, unveiled the second duo generation, the Audi 100 Duo - likewise based on the Audi 100 Avant quattro. Once again, this featured an electric motor, a 21.3 kilowatts (29.0 PS; 28.6 bhp) three-phase machine, driving the rear roadwheels. This time, however, the rear wheels were additionally powered via the Torsen centre differential from the main engine compartment, which housed a 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine. 

The Bill Clinton administration initiated the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program on 29 September 1993, that involved Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, USCAR, the DoE, and other various governmental agencies to engineer the next efficient and clean vehicle. The United States National Research Council (USNRC) cited automakers' moves to produce HEVs as evidence that technologies developed under PNGV were being rapidly adopted on production lines, as called for under Goal 2. Based on information received from automakers, NRC reviewers questioned whether the "Big Three" would be able to move from the concept phase to cost effective, pre-production prototype vehicles by 2004, as set out in Goal 3. The program was replaced by the hydrogen-focused FreedomCAR initiative by the George W. Bush administration in 2001, an initiative to fund research too risky for the private sector to engage in, with the long-term goal of developing effectively carbon emission- and petroleum-free vehicles.

Production HEVs

The Honda Insight is a Mild Parallel Hybrid.

The Toyota Prius is a series-parallel hybrid.

The Ford Escape Hybrid has a parallel drivetrain.

A Honda Civic Hybrid used by Zipcar, a car sharing service in Washington, D.C.

2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Automotive hybrid technology became successful in the 1990s when the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius and became available. These vehicles have a mechanical linkage from the ICE to the driven wheels, so that some power is transferred from the engine to the wheels without conversion to and from electric energy.

An R.L. Polk survey of 2003 model year cars showed that hybrid electric car registrations in the United States rose to 43,435 cars, a 25.8% increase from 2002 numbers. California had the most HEVs registered: 11,425.

The Prius has been in high demand since 2004. Newer designs have more conventional appearance and are less expensive, often appearing and performing identically to their non-hybrid counterparts while delivering 40% better fuel efficiency. The Honda Civic Hybrid appears identical to the non-hybrid version, for instance, but delivers better mileage. The redesigned 2004 Toyota Prius improved passenger room, cargo area, and power output, while increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. The Honda Insight, while not matching the demand of the Prius, stopped being produced after 2006 and has a devoted base of owners. In 2004, Honda also released a hybrid version of the Accord but discontinued it in 2007 citing disappointing sales.

Honda, which offers Insight, Civic and Accord models, sold 26,773 HEVs in the first 11 months of 2004. Toyota had sold a cumulative 306,862 HEVs between 1997 and November 2004, and Honda had sold a total of 81,867 HEVs between 1999 and November 2004.

Audi was the first European car manufacturer to put in 1997 a hybrid vehicle into series production, the third generation Audi duo, then based on the A4 Avant.

2005 saw the first hybrid electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) released, the Ford Escape Hybrid. Toyota and Ford entered into a licensing agreement in March 2004 allowing Ford to use 20 patents from Toyota related to hybrid technology, although Ford's engine was independently designed and built.  In exchange for the hybrid licenses, Ford licensed patents involving their European diesel engines to Toyota. Toyota announced calendar year 2005 hybrid electric versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 400h with 4WD-i, which uses a rear electric motor to power the rear wheels negating the need for a differential.

In 2006, General Motors Saturn Division began to market a mild (parallel) hybrid in the form of the 2007 Saturn VUE Greenline which utilized GM's Belted Alternator/Starter (BAS Hybrid) System combined with a 2.4 litre L4 engine and a FWD automatic transmission. The same hybrid powertrain was also used to power the 2008 Saturn Aura Greenline and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid models. As of Decenmber 2009, only the BAS equipped Malibu is still in (limited) production.

In 2007, Lexus released a hybrid electric version of their GS sport sedan dubbed the GS450h with a power output of 335 bhp. The 2007 Camry Hybrid became available in Summer 2006 in the United States and Canada. Nissan announced the release of the Altima hybrid (technology supplied by Toyota) in 2007.Hybrid cars see record sales.

Commencing in the fall of 2007 General Motors began to market their 2008 2-Mode Hybrid models of their GMT900 based Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs, closely followed by the 2009 Cadillac Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid version. For the 2009 model year, General Motors released the same technology in their 1/2-ton pickup truck models, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2-mode hybrid models.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid officially debuted at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2008, and was lanched to the U.S. market in March 2009, together with the second generation Honda Insight and the Mercury Milan Hybrid.

The Toyota hybrids combined with Lexus reached 1 million hybrids sold in the US by February 2009, and worldwide sales of hybrids by both carmakers reached over 2,016.9 million vehicles by August 2009. As a top seller in the US market, the Toyota Prius made up more than half of the 1.2 million Prius sold worldwide by early 2009.

US Hybrid vehicle sales 2004-2007 by model. By 2007 Toyota had an 85 % share of the US hybrid market.

Pre-production HEVs

Toyota plans to add hybrid drivetrains to ten new hybrid models by 2012 and expects to sell worldwide one million hybrids per year early in the coming decade.

General Motors had planned to have their Saturn division release the first front wheel drive version of the 2-mode hybrid technology in the form of the 2009 Saturn Vue 2-mode hybrid model, followed by a plug-in version for 2010. However, General Motors ended up shutting down it's Saturn Division as part of it's bankruptcy restructuring in June 2009.Since that time there have been numerous statements from GM that their FWD 2-mode technology would be appearing in either a Buick SUV or a Cadillac AWD sedan.

Hyundai Motor Company plans to start retail sales of its first LPG-electric hybrid vehicle in July 2009. To be sold initially in the South Korean domestic market under the Avante badge, the Elantra LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is the world's first hybrid vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and the first to adopt advanced Lithium Polymer (Li–Poly) batteries.

Comparing operating costs among different types of hybrid vehicles currently available in the marketplace, the Elantra LPI HEV promises to be the cheapest of all to run. The Elantra LPI HEV promises to be as much as 40 percent cheaper to operate than other competitor models in the marketplace

Honda will release the CR-Z in hybrid form in Feb 2010 in Japan.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an electric power source. It shares the characteristics of both traditional hybrid electric vehicles (also called charge-maintaining hybrid electric vehicles or CHEV), having an electric motor and a internal combustion engine, and of all-electric vehicles, also having a plug to connect to the electric grid.

In 2007 the United States Department of Energy recommended plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for mass-production.


Configuration of components.

The varieties of hybrid electric designs can be differentiated by the structure of the hybrid vehicle drivetrain, the fuel type, and the mode of operation.

In 2007, several automobile manufacturers announced that future vehicles will use aspects of hybrid electric technology to reduce fuel consumption without the use of the hybrid drivetrain. Regenerative braking can be used to recapture energy and stored to power electrical accessories, such as air conditioning. Shutting down the engine at idle can also be used to reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions without the addition of a hybrid drivetrain. In both cases, some of the advantages of hybrid electric technology are gained while additional cost and weight may be limited to the addition of larger batteries and starter motors. There is no standard terminology for such vehicles, although they may be termed mild hybrids.

The 2000s saw development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which can be recharged from the electrical power grid and do not require conventional fuel for short trips. The Renault Kangoo was the first production model of this design, released in France in 2003.

Engines and fuel sources

Fossil fuels

Free-piston engines could be used to generate electricity as efficiently as, and less expensively than, fuel cells.


Gasoline engines are used in most hybrid electric designs, and will likely remain dominant for the foreseeable future. While petroleum-derived gasoline is the primary fuel, it is possible to mix in varying levels of ethanol created from renewable energy sources. Like most modern ICE powered vehicles, HEVs can typically use up to about 15% bioethanol. Manufacturers may move to flexible fuel engines, which would increase allowable ratios, but no plans are in place at present.


Diesel-electric HEVs use a diesel engine for power generation. Diesels have advantages when delivering constant power for long periods of time, suffering less wear while operating at higher efficiency. The diesel engine's high torque, combined with hybrid technology, may offer substantially improved mileage. Most diesel vehicles can use 100% pure biofuels (biodiesel), so they can use but do not need petroleum at all for fuel (although mixes of biofuel and petroleum are more common, and petroleum may be needed for lubrication). If diesel-electric HEVs were in use, this benefit would likely also apply. Diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains have begun to appear in commercial vehicles (particularly buses); as of 2007, no light duty diesel-electric hybrid passenger cars are currently available, although prototypes exist. Peugeot is expected to produce a diesel-electric hybrid version of its 308 in late 2008 for the European market.

PSA Peugeot Citronen has unveiled two demonstrator vehicles featuring a diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain: the Peugeot 307, Citroen C4 Hybride HDi and Citroen C-Cactus. Volkswagen made a prototype diesel-electric hybrid car that achieved 2 L/100 km (140 mpg-imp; 120 mpg-US) fuel economy, but has yet to sell a hybrid vehicle. General Motors has been testing the Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid. There have been no concrete dates suggested for these vehicles, but press statements have suggested production vehicles would not appear before 2009.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009 both Mercedes and BMW displayed diesel-electric hybrids.

Robert Bosch GmbH is supplying hybrid diesel-electric technology to diverse automakers and models, including the Peugeot 308.

So far, production diesel-electric engines have mostly appeared in mass transit buses.

FedEx, along with Eaton Corp. in the USA and Iveco in Europe, has begun deploying a small fleet of Hybrid diesel electric delivery trucks. As of October 2007 Fedex now operates more than 100 diesel electric hybrids in North America, Asia and Europe.


Hydrogen can be used in cars in two ways: As a combustable heat source, or as a source of electrons for an electric motor. The burning of hydrogen is not being developed in practical terms; it is the hydeogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (HFEV)that is garnering all the attention. Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity that is fed into an electric motor to drives the wheels. Hydrogen is not burned, but it is consumed. This means that molecular hydrogen, H2, is combined with oxygen to form water. 2H2 (4e-) + O2 --> 2H2O (4e-). The molecular hydrogen and oxygen's mutual affinity drives the fuel cell to separate the electrons from the hydrogen, to use them to power the electric motor, and to return them to the ionized water molecules that were formed when the electron-depleted hydrogen combined with the oxygen in the fuel cell. Recaling that a hydeogen atom is nothing more than a proton and an electron; in essence, the motor is driven by the proton's atomic attraction to the oxygen nucleus, and the electron's attraction to the ionized water molecule.

An HFEV is an all-electric car that has an open-source battery in the form of a hydrogen tank and the atmosphere. HFEV's may also contain closed-cell batteries for the purpose of power storage from regenerative breaking, but this does not change the source of the motivation. It means that the HFEV is an electric car with two types of batteries. So, since HFEV's are purely electric, and do not contain any type of heat engine, they are not hybrids.


Hybrid vehicles might use an internal combustion engine running on biofuels, such as ethanol fuel or biodiesel. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle would be the first commercially available flex-fuel plug-in hybrid capable of adapting the propulsion to the biofuels used in several world markets such as the ethanol blend E85 in the US, or E100 in Brazil, or biodiesel in Sweden.

Electric machines

In split path vehicles (Toyota, Ford, GM, Chysler) there are two electrical machines, one of which functions as a motor primarily, and the other functions as a generator primarily. One of the primary requirements of these machines is that they are very efficient, as the electrical portion of the energy must be converted from the engine to the generator, through two inverters, through the motor again and then to the wheels.

Most of the electric machines used in hybrid vehicles are brushless DC motors (BLDC). Specifically, they are of a type called an interior permanent magnet (IPM) machine (or motor). These machines are wound similarly to the induction motors found in a typical home, but (for high efficiency) use very strong rare earth magnets in the rotor. These magnets contain neodymium, iron and boron, and are therefore called NdFeB magnets. The magnet material is expensive, and its cost is one of the limiting factors in the use of these machines.

Design considerations

In some cases, manufacturers are producing HEVs that use the added energy provided by the hybrid systems to give vehicles a power boost, rather than significantly improved fuel efficiency compared to their traditional counterparts. The trade-off between added performance and improved fuel efficiency is partly controlled by the software within the hybrid system and partly the result of the engine, battery and motor size. In the future, manufacturers may provide HEV owners with the ability to partially control this balance (fuel efficiency vs. added performance) as they wish, through a user-controlled setting. Toyota announced in January, 2006 that it was considering a "high-efficiency" button.

Conversion kits

One can buy a stock hybrid or convert a stock petroleum car to a hybrid electric vehicle using an aftermarket hybrid kit.

Environmental impact

Fuel consumption

Current HEVs reduce petroleum consumption under certain circumstances, compared to otherwise similar conventional vehicles, primarily by using three mechanisms:

  1. Reducing wasted energy during idle/low output, generally by turning the ICE off
  2. Recapturing waste energy (i.e. regenerative braking)
  3. Reducing the size and power of the ICE, and hence inefficiencies from under-utilization, by using the added power from the electric motor to compensate for the loss in peak power output from the smaller ICE.

Any combination of these three primary hybrid advantages may be used in different vehicles to realize different fuel usage, power, emissions, weight and cost profiles. The ICE in an HEV can be smaller, lighter, and more efficient than the one in a conventional vehicle, because the combustion engine can be sized for slightly above average power demand rather than peak power demand. The drive system in a vehicle is required to operate over a range of speed and power, but an ICE's highest efficiency is in a narrow range of operation, making conventional vehicles inefficient. On the contrary, in most HEV designs, the ICE operates closer to its range of highest efficiency more frequently. The power curve of electric motors is better suited to variable speeds and can provide substantially greater torque at low speeds compared with internal-combustion engines. The greater fuel economy of HEVs has implication for reduced petroleum consumption and vehicle air pollution emissions worldwide.


Reduced noise emissions resulting from substantial use of the electric motor at idling and low speeds, leading to roadway noise reduction, in comparison to conventional gasoline or diesel powered engine vehicles, resulting in beneficial noise health effects (although road noise from tires and wind, the loudest noises at highway speeds from the interior of most vehicles, are not affected by the hybrid design alone).

Reduced noise may not be beneficial for all road users, as blind people or the visually-impaired consider the noise of combustion engines a helpful aid while crossing streets and feel quiet hybrids could pose an unexpected hazard. The U.S. Congress and the European Commission are exploring legislation to establish a minimum level of sound for electric and hybrid electric vehicles when operating in electric mode, so that blind people and other pedestrians and cyclists can hear them coming and detect from which direction they are approaching. Tests have shown that vehicles operating in electric mode can be particularly hard to hear below 20 mph (32 km/h).

A study conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that crashes involving pedestrian and bicyclist have higher incidence rates for HEVs than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in certain vehicle maneuvers. These accidents commonly occurred on in zones with low speed limits, during daytime and in clear weather. The study found that a HEV was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash than was an ICE vehicle when a vehicle is slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space. Vehicle maneuvers were grouped in one category considering those maneuvers that might have occurred at very low speeds where the difference between the sound levels produced by the hybrid versus ICE vehicle is the greatest. Also the study found that the incidence rate of pedestrian crashes in scenarios when vehicles make a turn was significantly higher for HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles. Similarly, The NHTSA study also concluded that the incidence rate of bicyclist crashes involving HEVs for the same kind of maneuvers was significantly higher when compared to ICE vehicles.


Reduced air pollution emissions, due to lower fuel consumption, lead improved human health with regard to respiratory problems and other illnesses. Pollution reduction in urban environments may be particularly significant due to elimination of idle-at-rest.

Battery toxicity is a concern, although today's hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

Vehicle types


Companies such as Zero Motorcycles and Vectrix have market-ready all-electric motorcycles available now, but the pairing of electrical components and an internal combustion engine (ICE) has made packaging cumbersome, especially for niche brands.

Also, eCycle Inc produces series diesel-electric motorcycles, with a top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h) and a target retail price of $5500.

Peugeot HYmotion 3 compressor, a hybrid scooter is a three-wheeler that uses two separate power sources to power the front and back wheels. The back wheel is powered by a single cylinder 125 cc, 20 bhp (15 kW) single cylinder motor while the front wheels are each driven by their own electric motor. When the bike is moving up to 10 km/h only the electric motors are used on a stop-start basis reducing the amount of carbon emissions.

SEMA has announced that Yamaha is going to launch one in 2010, with Honda following a year later, fueling a competition to reign in new customers and set new standards for mobility. Each company hopes to provide the capability to reach 60 miles (97 km) per charge by adopting advanced lithium-ion batteries to accomplish their claims. These proposed hybrid motorcycles could incorporate components from the upcoming Honda Insight car and its hybrid powertrain. The ability to mass-produce these items helps to overcome the investment hurdles faced by start-up brands and bring new engineering concepts into mainstream markets.

Automobiles and light trucks

A number of manufacturers currently produce hybrid electric automobiles and light trucks. Other types of HEVs are manufactured including Microhybrids—small hybrid electric city cars. Diesel-electric hybrid vehicles may soon see mass-production.


Hybrid taxi
Ford Escape hybrid-electric taxi

New York City started converting its taxi fleet to hybrids in 2005, with 375 active as of July, 2007. The mayor plans to convert 20% of the remaining 13,000 taxis each year.

San Francisco intends to convert its entire fleet to hybrid or Compressed natural gas vehicles by 2008.


Hybrid technology for buses has seen increased attention since recent battery developments decreased battery weight significantly. Drivetrains consist of conventional diesel engines and gas turbines. Some designs concentrate on using car engines, recent designs have focused on using conventional diesel engines already used in bus designs, to save on engineering and training costs. Several manufacturers are currently working on new hybrid designs, or hybrid drivetrains that fit into existing chassis offerings without major re-design. A challenge to hybrid buses may still come from cheaper lightweight imports from the former Eastern block countries or China, where national operators are looking at fuel consumption issues surrounding the weight of the bus, which has increased with recent bus technology innovations such as glazing, air conditioning and electrical systems. A hybrid bus can also deliver fuel economy though through the hybrid drivetrain. Hybrid technology is also being promoted by environmentally concerned transit authorities.


In 2003, GM introduced a hybrid diesel-electric military (light) truck, equipped with a diesel electric and a fuel cell auxiliary power unit. Hybrid electric light trucks were introduced in 2004 by Mercedes Benz (Sprinter) and Micro-Vett SPA (Daily Bimodale). International Truck and Engine Corp. and Eaton Corp. have been selected to manufacture diesel-electric hybrid trucks for a US pilot program serving the utility industry in 2004. In mid 2005 Isuzu introduced the Elf Diesel Hybrid Truck on the Japanese Market. They claim that approximately 300 vehicles, mostly route buses are using Hinos HIMR (Hybrid Inverter Controlled Motor & Retarder) system. In 2007, high petroleum price means a hard sell for hybrid trucks and appears the first U.S. production hybrid truck (International DuraStar Hybrid).

Other vehicles are:

  • Big mining machines like the Liebherr T 282B dump truck or Keaton Vandersteen LeTourneau L-2350 wheel loader are powered that way. Also there was several models of BelAZ (7530 and 7560 series) in USSR (now in Belarus) since the middle of 1970th.
  • NASA's huge Crawler-Transporters are diesel-electric.
  • Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid is a diesel-electric commercial truck.
  • Hino Motors (a Toyota subsidiary) has the world's first production hybrid electric truck in Australia (110 kW/150 hp diesel engine plus a 23 kW/31 hp electric motor).

Other hybrid petroleum-electric truck makers are DAF Trucks, MAN AG, with MAN TGL Series, Nissan Motors and Renault Trucks with Renault Puncher.

Hybrid electric truck technology and powertrain maker: ZF Friedrichshafen.

Coca-Cola Enterprises has the largest hybrid electric trucks in North America. The hybrid electric tractors are the standard bulk delivery truck the company uses for large deliveries. CCE plans to incrementally deploy 185 of the hybrid electric trucks across the United States and Canada in 2009, bringing their total number of hybrid electric delivery trucks to 327, the largest such fleet in North America. The company already has 142 smaller hybrid electric delivery vehicles on the road. The trucks are powered by Eaton Corporation's hybrid electric drivetrain systems.

By a voice vote, the United States House of Representatives approved the Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 2009 authored by representative James Sensenbrenner.

Military vehicles

The United States Army's manned ground vehicles of the Future Combat System all use a hybrid electric drive consisting of a diesel engine to generate electrical power for mobility and all other vehicle subsystems. However, with the current 2010 DOD budget all FCS land vehicles have have been put on hold. Other military hybrid prototypes include the Millenworks Light Utility Vehicle, the International FTTS, HEMTT model A3, and the Shadow RST-V.


In May 2003, JR East started test runs with the so called NE (new energy) train and validated the system's functionality (series hybrid with lithium ion battery) in cold regions. In 2004, Railpower Technologies had been running pilots in the US with the so called Green Goats, which led to orders by the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific Railways starting in early 2005.

Railpower offers hybrid electric road switchers, as does GE. Diesel-electric locomotives may not always be considered HEVs, not having energy storage on board, unless they are fed with electricity via a collector for short distances (for example, in tunnels with emission limits), in which case they are better classified as dual-mode vehicles.

Marine and other aquatic

Produces marine hybrid propulsion:

  • eCycle Inc.
  • Solar Sailor Holdings

Hybrid Premium and Showroom Cost Parity

HEVs can be initially more expensive (the so-called "hybrid premium") than pure fossil-fuel-based ICE vehicles (ICEVs), due to extra batteries, more electronics and in some cases other design considerations (although battery renting can be used to reach the cost parity). The trade-off between higher initial cost (also called showroom costs) and lower fuel costs (difference often referred to as the payback period) is dependent on usage - miles traveled, or hours of operation, fuel costs, and in some cases, government subsidies. Traditional economy vehicles may result in a lower direct cost for many users (before consideration of any externality).

Consumer Reports ran an article in April 2006 stating that HEVs would not pay for themselves over 5 years of ownership. However, this included an error with charging the "hybrid premium" twice. When corrected, the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius did have a payback period of slightly less than 5 years. This includes conservative estimates with depreciation (seen as more depreciation than a conventional vehicle, although that is not the current norm) and with progressively-higher gas prices. In particular, the Consumer Reports article assumed $2/U.S. gallon for 3 years, $3/U.S. gallon for one year and $4/U.S. gallon the last year. As recent events have shown, this is a volatile market and hard to predict. For 2006, gas prices ranged from low $2 to low $3, averaging about $2.60/U.S. gallon.

A January 2007 analysis by shows that all 22 currently available HEVs will save their owners money over a five year period. The most savings is for the Toyota Prius, which has a five year cost of ownership 40.3% lower than the cost of comparable non-hybrid vehicles.

A report in the Greeley Tribune says that over the five years it would typically take for a new car owner to pay off the vehicle cost differential, a hybrid Camry driver could save up to $6,700 in gasoline at current gasoline prices, with hybrid tax incentives as an additional saving.

In countries with incentives to fight against global warming and contamination and promote vehicle fuel efficiency, the pay-back period can be immediate and all-combustion engine vehicles (ACEVs) can cost more than hybrids because they generate more pollution.

Toyota and Honda have already said they've halved the incremental cost of electric hybrids and see cost parity in the future (even without incentives).

Raw materials shortage

The rare earth element dysprosium is required to fabricate many of the advanced electric motors and battery systems in hybrid propulsion systems.

However, nearly all the rare earth elements in the world come from China, and one analyst believes that an overall increase in Chinese electronics manufacturing may consume this entire supply by 2012. In addition, export quotas on Chinese rare earth exports have resulted in a generally shaky supply of those metals.

A few non-Chinese sources such as the advanced Hoidas Lake project in northern Canada as well as Mt. Weld in Australia are currently under development; however it is not known if these sources will be developed before a shortage hits.

Legislation and incentives

In order to encourage the purchase of HEVs, several incentives and ecotaxes have been made into law.


Residents in Ontario and Quebec, Canada can claim a rebate on the Provincial Retail Sales Tax of up to $2,000 CDN on the purchase or lease of a hybrid electric vehicle. Ontario recently announced a new green license plate for hybrid car users and will announce a slew of benefits that go along with it in 2008. Residents in British Columbia are eligible for a 100% reduction of sales tax up to a maximum of $2,000 if the hybrid electric vehicle is purchased or leased before April 1, 2011 (extended in 2007/2008 budget from March 31, 2008 and expanded from a maximum of only $1,000 from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, at which point the concession was scheduled to expire.) Prince Edward Island residents can claim rebates on the Provincial Sales Tax of up to $3,000 CDN on the purchase or lease of any hybrid vehicles since March 30, 2004.


In Jordan, a full import customs and sales tax exemption is granted for all hybrid vehicles, the former that can reach up to 80% of the vehicle list price based on the engine size. This opened the door for a huge surge in the import of second hand hybrid vehicles, chiefly from the US and Canada, mostly Toyota Camry, Lexus RX and GM brands such as Tahoe and Escalade.

Official dealers of car makers that produce hybrid vehicles such as Toyota and Honda are still reluctant in offering the hybrid counterparts of the base models such as the Toyota Camry & Honda Civic for unknown reasons! Toyota local dealer however is heavily marketing the Toyota Prius as a niche product.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, a 50% reduction in VRT applies, which normally amounts to 25% of the market value of a car.


In the Netherlands, the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), payable when a car is sold to its first buyer, can earn the owner of an HEV a discount up to 6,000 euros.


In Sweden there is an "Eco car" subsidy of SEK 10 000 (~ USD 1.600) cash payout to private car owners. For fringe benefit cars there is a reduction of the benefit tax of 40% for EV's & HEV's and 20% for other "Eco cars".

United Kingdom

Drivers of HEVs in the United Kingdom benefit from the lowest band of vehicle excise duty (car tax), which is based on carbon dioxide emissions. In central London, these vehicles are also exempt from the £8 daily London congestion charge. Due to their low levels of regulated emissions, the greenest cars are eligible for 100% discount under the current system. To be eligible the car must be on the current Power Shift Register. At present, these include the cleanest LPG and natural gas cars and most hybrid-, battery- and fuel cell-electric vehicles.

United States


The purchase of hybrid electric cars qualifies for a federal income tax credit up to $3,150 on the purchaser's Federal income taxes. The tax credit is to be phased out two calendar quarters after the manufacturer reaches 60,000 new cars sold in the following manner: it will be reduced to 50% ($1700) if delivered in either the third or fourth quarter after the threshold is reached, to 25% ($850) in the fifth and sixth quarters, and 0% thereafter.

States and local

  • Certain states (e.g., New York, California, Virginia, and Florida) allow singly-occupied HEVs to enter the HOV lanes on the highway. Initially, the Federal Highway Administration ruled that this was a violation of federal statute until August 10, 2005 when George W. Bush signed the Transportation Equity Act of 2005 into law.
  • Some states, e.g. California, exempt hybrid electric cars from the biennial smog inspection, which costs over $50 (as of 2004).
  • The city of San Jose, California issued a free parking tag until 2007 when it became issued for a fee annually for hybrid electric cars that were purchased at a San Jose dealership. The qualified owners do not have to pay for parking in any city garage or road side parking meters.
  • The city of Los Angeles, California offers free parking to all HEVs which started on 1 October 2004. The experiment is an extension to an existing offer of free parking for all pure electrical vehicles.
  • In October, 2005, the city of Baltimore, Maryland started to offer discount on monthly parking in the city parking lots, and is considering free meter parking for HEVs. On 3 November 2005, the Boston Globe reports that the city council of Boston is considering the same treatment for hybrid electric cars.
  • Annual vehicle registration fees in the Distric of Columbia are half ($36) that paid for conventional vehicles ($72).

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