Last April at the SAE World Congress, participants in a panel discussion on the future of performance powertrains discussed hybrids
as one of the best routes to enhancing vehicle performance without increasing emissions or fuel consumption. That approach may still prove to be viable in the future, but it appears increasingly unlikely that automakers will actually promote it that way. When Honda
introduced a hybrid version of the Accord
a few years ago they actually sold it as a performance enhancement rather than an efficiency booster. The Accord hybrid proved to be a retail failure and most of the Toyota's
Lexus hybrids have been relatively weak sellers as well. Rather than promote the Lexus
hybrids as a performance upgrade from the conventional models, Toyota is selling them as cleaner, more efficient alternatives to larger engined competitors. Meanwhile Honda is shifting toward diesels
for larger vehicles and keeping the hybrid powertrains in smaller vehicles.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]