If you’re interested in buying a hybrid car in Australia at this point in time you don’t really have a big choice. If fact, if you want to look no further than your local dealer you’re limited to a choice of just four and three of them are from the same manufacturer.
Toyota has certainly done a great job of marketing the Prius and now they’re concentrating on marketing the new Australian built Hybrid Camry. While we haven’t driven the Prius we certainly have driven the Hybrid Camry you can find our Hybrid Camry road tests by following the link and it’s definitely a great option if you want all the benefits that come from owning a hybrid car.
Honda also have a hybrid and don’t be surprised if you haven’t heart of their Civic Hybrid before because, even though it’s been around for a few years, Honda hasn’t promoted it to the same extent that Toyota have promoted their hybrid models. That’s interesting because several years ago one of the state automotive bodies found that the Civic Hybrid was actually cheaper to own and operate than the Prius.
Of course if money is no option then you’re not really going to be interested in a Prius or a Hybrid Camry or a Civic Hybrid when you can have luxury and green credentials as well. If that’s what you want then you have a hybrid Lexus and the hybrid GS450h is certainly some car.
So with only four vehicles to choose from … and one of those from a manufacturer that is a little shy about their product … it’s not surprising that the uptake of hybrid cars in Australia has not been as big as you might expect.
However, that could be all about to change. Hyundai … a company that’s never shy about their products … is poised to unveil a hybrid Sonata at the New York Motor Show at the very end of this month.
Hyundai have been working on their hybrid system for some years now and while they first displayed it back in 2008 now we’re seeing it for the first time in a production car.
They Hyundai hybrid system will be a parallel hybrid … similar to what’s in the Hybrid Camry … and it will feature a 30kW electric motor combined with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Unlike the Hybrid Camry Hyundai has coupled the electric/petrol combination power system to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Unlike Toyota Hyundai is not using lithium-ion batteries in the hybrid Sonata. Instead they’re using a lithium-polymer battery and these batteries are much smaller … around 20% smaller … than lithium-ion batteries.
Of course here in Australia we’re probably going to have to wait some time before the hybrid Sonata reaches our shores but it’s sure to arouse a lot of interest when it does. Hyundai have never been reluctant to offer some very aggressive pricing on their vehicles and the price of the hybrid Sonata in Australia could be just what the motoring public needs to become more interested in hybrid cars.