Hybrid Sports Cars Coming Soon
by : Gregg Hall
When one thinks of hybrid automobiles, the image of subcompact economy cars--high on gas mileage and low on top-end performance--undoubtedly comes to mind. However, with gas prices consistently increasing over time, occasionally in sudden spikes, and environmental awareness growing in all quarters, there is a movement afoot to bring hybrid technology into the realm of high-performance sports cars.
Japanese automakers, in particular, seem to be expending a great deal of effort in fusing hybrid technology with sports car appearance and performance. The Subaru Scrambler, the Mazda Ibuki and Mitsubishi's hybrid in its Eclipse line are all progressing in development.
Most of the hybrid research and development currently focuses on adopting the most common hybrid production methods. Lithium batteries and electric motors join forces with top-notch engineering. Preliminary reports indicate that at least one 470 horsepower sports car is under design by a leading Japanese manufacturer.
In addition to hybrid sports car working from the same general principles of their better-known economy car brethren, hydrogen-burning sports cars are also under investigation. Many years ago, Mazda discovered their rotary engine performed exceptionally well while using lean-burning hydrogen as a fuel source. Since that time, Mazda has continued to tinker with this revolutionary methodology in hopes of eventually producing an environmentally friendly sports car that maintains high performance standards.
The most visible hybrid sports car, however, is the Toyota Priapus. A conventional gas/electric hybrid, the Priapus lists at over $70,000. It will be hard for owners of this hybrid sports car to recoup the additional cost in fuel savings, but the automobile is increasing in popularity. Experts predict the limited-production hybrid sports car will perform well in auctions, with car enthusiasts likely to be willing to spend into six figures to procure the low-to-the ground, futuristic Toyota offering--and with good reason. The Priapus boasts zero to sixty mile per hour acceleration in just under four seconds while maintaining an impressive 30 miles per gallon in terms of fuel efficiency.
The Japanese are not the only automakers to spend time and resources plumbing the realm of hybrid sports cars. Two former Jaguar designers are making headlines in England with the development of a V10 hybrid that has recently been awarded significant capital in the form of government grants to bring the concept car into the general marketplace.
With many nations' fuel efficiency standards demanding better fuel economy in the future, gas prices spiking again and again, and a general consensus developing that hybrid technology can reduce pollution and perhaps stem global warming trends, there is no doubt that hybrid automobile research and production will continue to accelerate.
Those who were worried the automotive icon that is the sports car would vanish somewhere along the way as the green movement gathered force can take heart in recent developments. All indicators point toward a greener, more fuel-efficient future featuring jaw-dropping high-performance cars sure to please even the most discriminating sports automotive enthusiasts. As long as there are cars, it seems there will be those who demand impressively speedy, sporty automobiles and manufacturers are not willing to let go of that purchasing base as they explore hybrid alternatives to traditional internal combustion autos.