• Apr 28, 2011
2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist – Click above for high-res image gallery

The popularity of the Toyota Prius has made "hybrid" a widely recognized word and has prompted the launch of numerous competitive vehicles from various automakers. Additionally, derivatives of the conventional hybrid – i.e., micro and mild hybrids – are popping up everywhere. However, most automakers seem reluctant to tag these vehicles with a "hybrid" badge.

Recently, General Motors announced its eAssist technology, which will be featured first in Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal. Essentially, eAssist is what we'd call a mild hybrid, yet GM shies away from using the H-word. Likewise, the 2012 Focus, equipped with Ford's six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, relies heavily upon electricity instead of the vehicle's engine when idling or slowing to boost fuel efficiency.

It's not just Ford and GM, it's the vast majority of the automotive industry. With names like Efficient Dynamics, ecoFlex and Blue Efficiency, use of the H-word seems to be so last year. Do you think these newfangled terms could confuse potential buyers?



Photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

[Source: Hybrid Cars]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Nick From Montreal
      • 3 Years Ago
      Or there might be a recognition that stop/start technology is not really hybrid and selling vehicles as such is misleading. With so many new ICE vehicles achieving 40 MPG, the bar is higher for hybrids now.
        Kai F. Lahmann
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick From Montreal
        Well, the Prius is still 20% ahead (ok, instead of 40% before...). We'll see, what the Yaris Hybrid will deliver next year...
          Edge
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kai F. Lahmann
          And that is only comparing highway miles. Most of us drive in cities, and the Prius still has it's 40% lead.
        lne937s
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick From Montreal
        I think the big problem is that they really don't achieve 40 mpg overall. 40 mpg is a highway rating used primarily for marketing, achieved by optimizing gear ratios for the highway test procedure. Most of these cars make a little over 30 mpg combined, with real world results closer to 20 mpg for the more common models (Cruze got 18 mpg in C&D recent comparison test). Making 50 mpg combined in a Prius or 44 mpg combined in a Civic hybrid is a big step up from 33 combined for a Cruze eco. The big problem is misleading marketing. Stating better combined mileage confuses the misleading highway mileage number they want to promote in marketing. The FTC should really require the combined mileage number to be used front and center to counter this marketing practice.
      Arun Murali
      • 3 Years Ago
      With the current and cars and magazines around the world goes about telling Hybrid === Not a great drive == You look like a geek. People resort to this sort of stuff. Even Eco Badge is equally bad. Also, traditionally when technologies came, companies start of by putting a big badge in front of it. For example when Fuel Injection was an option you had a big sticker saying Fuel Injected. When Auto Transmissions game you had a big badge saying Auto. When 4 valves came it had a big 4 valve or 32 valve in front of it. Even now we have VVTi and VTEC stuck all over the car. But they slowly become smaller and disappear. Its not such a new trend. I believe GM is trying to shake off the negative image that an Hybrid carries and let people choose the car by just driving it. As a bonus their car will get higher Gas mileage. The other side of the equation is that these cars wont get as much media attention and hard core enthusiasts shouting all over that, (s)he is better off with a Prius or Volt or Leaf. In other words, It simply means this car is not aimed at enthusiasts.
      GoodCheer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm with Nick. The confusion is not from the diversity of new names for slight modifications of accessory systems, confusion would be to call things hybrids that are not hybrids. Kinda like failing to call things hybrids that ARE hybrids. It's taken us how long to have the term 'hybrid' finally applied to the Volt in the popular media?
      mylexicon
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why would they shy away from the word hybrid? Altogether now: "Because the marketers can't control the connotative meaning of a generic word like hybrid" That's right. The word "hybrid has been hijacked by divisive political pundits and zero-growth economists dressed in burlap sacks. Can't brand a product with a word that cannot be controlled; especially when the connotative meanings inspire controversy. The problem with green is marketing. Almost rhymes so it should be easy to remember. The question is not: Will these new fangled terms confuse buyers? The question is: If "fun to drive" and "quiet" are at the top of the Volt word-cloud, why are the manufacturers branding with efficiency lingo? It should be called Buick Silent Drive or the Fusion E-Sport or something that resembles the concepts in the word cloud. Efficiency and technology were certainly highly ranked, but they paled in comparison to fun to drive and quiet.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      What is this nonsense you're talking about the Focus? It doesn't rely heavily on electricity. It's a gas car. It's not a hybrid. What does "relies heavily on electricity when idling or slowing" mean?
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        True it's not a hybrid...but using electricity to reduce parasitic loses is a good thing and should be used anywhere and everywhere. But it seems automakers use these advances in EVERY place except the engine.....they don't want to give up that cash cow and are in cahoots with the energy firms...so naturally the slowest progressing technologies are still found in the actual powerplant.
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        The linked article clearly points out the benefits of an electro-mechanical transmission in the Focus over a hydraulically actuated one. No electricity, no benefit; the transmission won't work at all without electricity, so it's safe to say the improvements "rely heavily" on it. Electricity can be used for more than just the prime mover - major gains can be made by using electrically-operated bits throughout the auto. Electric active grill slats to improve aerodynamics, as another example.
          spw
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          you can do whatever you want with electricity, if it doesnt move the vehicle, it is not an hybrid. To quote the dictionary: "(of a vehicle) powered by more than one source".
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this says more about the types of people who buy GM and Ford cars than it does about the industry as a whole. Some people are proud to have hybrids.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I guess really the bottom line is what kind of mileage does it get? Unless car manufacturers start show cost per mile, that's really what most poeple (who care about how much they spend on gas) will go by. Most people probably don't care about mild hybrid, vs. two-mode hybrid, vs. micro-hyrbid vs. eco-tech, etc. etc.
      porosavuporo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volt is another example that tried hard to sneak away from hybrid name.
      Marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      IMO, Hybrid is a term so heavily associated with the Toyota/Lexus brand that every car carrying the name is obviously held to a comparison. Since the Japanese automaker excels against nearly every car in its market segment, it not a good idea to draw a potential buyers attention to that fact. Volt, is not a Hybrid, but a new category. A plug-in range extended EV. Volt is the next step, and to match it Toyota will have to produce a similar technology. The rumours that before the earthquake, Toyota was preparing the CT 200h for a very advanced range extended EV system, may not be so far fetched.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would tend to believe they stay away from the word because it's either trademarked or hybrids are preceived by consumers to be "wimpy" cars. Honestly my Prius is wimpy compared to my old 5 spd manual transmission Saturn.
      spw
      • 3 Years Ago
      BMW with Efficient Dynamics are NOT hybrids, and MBs with Blue Efficiency are not hybrids. Nor is Ford Focus an hybrid because it uses smarter transmission. Hybrid means car is being moved by more than a single power source, in this case, gasoline and electric engines. Using electric A/C does not make car a hybrid. lol. It is only GM that is not slapping hybrid logo on Buick, for who knows what "political" reason. Maybe so it wont be compared to Lincoln and Lexus hybrids that get a lot better mileage overall?
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      All they need to know is what the EPA mileage estimates are, and most really don't care how this efficiency is achieved. Your neighborhood car salesman will be more than happy to explain it to you if you so desire.
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