Update: We have now published the 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.
In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new hybrid car? 2012 is shaping to be an important year in the story of hybrid vehicles, as almost every major manufacturer will be offering, releasing, or announcing a hybrid product.
While the Tohuku earthquake in Japan has affected 2011 plans, the Japanese are muscling ahead with 2012 hybrid launches. The Germans have finally entered the hybrid market in a serious way, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche all offering a hybrid product – especially on their SUVs. Of the domestic manufacturers, GM is still evolving their hybrid full-size SUVs, but is readying some car hybrids for 2012 that should give Ford’s dominance in domestic hybrid sales a strong challenge. Chrysler’s recent reorganization with Fiat means hybrid drivetrains won’t be expected from them until 2013 however.
The most exciting thing about the 2012 lineup is that hybrid technology has been embraced by the mainstream as an important way of improving the environmental impact of car usage. One study predicts that all new cars will have some level of hybridization by 2020.
So here is the lineup of 2012’s hybrid cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. Please note that we define hybrid vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that can be powered by its gasoline engine. See our 2012 Electric Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains powered only by their electric motor.
Audi, as part of the massive VW universe (along with Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat) has committed resources for hybrid models after witnessing their success here. While European markets are still more interested in diesel engines, Americans have been clamoring – and will now get – hybridized Audis, albeit slowly. Audi continues to maintain, though, that diesels are the superior engine of choice for efficiency.
Q5 Hybrid Quattro car – The first Audi hybrid car to reach our shores for sale, the Q5 mates a compact crossover body with an efficient all-wheel drivetrain. Utilizing a 208hp 4-cylinder engine as its base, Audi mates a 44hp electric motor to give its first hybrid the scoot of the V6 (0-60 in 7 flat) with economy better than the base 4 (an estimated 33 MPG combined). Audi claims the Q5 is able to run for almost 2 miles on electricity alone at speeds under 62 MPH, but few reviewers have been able to achieve that. Expect a 15% price premium, at an estimated MSRP of $48,000 when it goes on sale.
A6 Hybrid car (2012 or 2013) – At the January 2011 Detroit auto show, Audi unveiled an A6 sedan with a hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Q5. Despite the combination being showroom ready, Audi has not released an on-sale date for the hybrid sedan.