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More and more automakers are inclined to the need to introduce electric motors into the design of production vehicles. This need is caused by many factors, both unambiguous and controversial, among which are concern for the environment, saving exhaustible natural resources and, of course, one of the most important for the consumer - low fuel consumption. As you remember, the first mass-produced car with a hybrid installation was the Toyota Prius, which, despite its rather modest characteristics and simple design, was greeted with great enthusiasm all over the world.
As usual, when creating a new car, the Japanese primarily focus on North American drivers. Following the success of the Prius, other Japanese brands followed suit, including the best-selling brand in the United States, Honda. In addition to the obvious savings on fuel, media personalities actively promoted concern for nature. Home brands remained on the sidelines for a long time, but it was impossible to constantly ignore the new segment.
Ford was the first to enter the fray, introducing the Ford Escape hybrid in 2004, which became not only the first American hybrid, but also the first parquet hybrid. It was 70% more efficient than a regular gasoline Escape, according to the EPA. The Mercury Mariner, a Ford car, differed from the Escape in exterior details, as well as richer trim and options. By the end of the year, Ford sold 17,000 vehicles - four times more than it had planned. The economical novelty with a spacious interior was very popular in taxi fleets. Based on 2005 results, the first hybrid SUV received the title of "North American Best SUV".
The Ford Escape Hybrid was powered by an inline four-cylinder 2.3-liter engine producing 133 hp. and an electric motor with a power of 94 hp, which in total gave the same characteristics as the 200-horsepower gasoline Escape with V6. Consumption ranged from 8 to 10 liters per 100 km. With these characteristics, the hybrid version cost only $ 3,400 more than the inline-four. It was possible to purchase both a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive version.
Later, in the same 2004, General Motors also offered its version of a hybrid car, these were typically American cars - Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra - full-size frame pickups. True, it could only be called a hybrid conditionally. It was still the same truck with a 5.3-liter V8, and the electric motor was in the flywheel of the gearbox and was in fact a "start-stop" system, allowing the engine to start after stopping at traffic lights and in traffic jams, which gave small savings in the commercial use of the pickup. He was also equipped with three additional batteries.
And then it fell like a cornucopia: almost all Toyota and Lexus models acquired hybrids, followed by German manufacturers, in 2007 General Motors announced its claims to the compact hybrid segment, in which the Prius continued to occupy the lion's share. At the Detroit Auto Show, the concept Chevrolet Volt was shown, the serial production of which started in 2010. However, hardly anyone will be able to catch up with Toyota in the coming years; over the past years, this corporation has sold more than 10 million hybrid vehicles. Moreover, unlike other manufacturers, they offer their hybrid vehicles in all markets of presence.
A serious struggle unfolded in other segments, for example, among the mid-size sedans. Here again Toyota is in the lead - in 2006 the Lexus GS 450h, which became the first hybrid rear-wheel drive luxury sedan, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which does not need special introduction, were presented.
In 2009, in the United States, Camry had a rather serious rival, it was the Ford Fusion Hybrid, an analogue of the European model Mondeo, which lost quite a bit to Toyota in sales. On the same platform, Ford Motor Company offers two more higher-end vehicles - the Mercury Milan Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. From the second generation, the European Mondeo Hybrid appeared, with the same power plant.
Since the second generation, which launched in 2013, Ford began to offer not only a conventional hybrid, but also a more efficient charging version, dubbed the Fusion Energi. Its performance is far superior to that of a conventional hybrid, and Ford has high expectations for the new technology.
In Europe, this technology is known from the C-MAX Energi model, but more recently the concern has registered this name for several more models: Kuga, Explorer, Focus and Transit, so, probably, soon Ford will begin to fully compete with Japanese manufacturers around the world. In addition, the Mustang Energi will appear first in the US market and then possibly worldwide.
Of course, there is no need to talk about a large-scale influx of hybrids due to the limited resources for their batteries, but the development of this direction will certainly entail the development of technologies. We will see how it will look soon.
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