Mild hybrid cars: Mainstreaming is the only option, now

If there was a time for mild hybrid cars, it's now. However, heading into the future they just won't compare with conventional, full hybrid cars.

If mild hybrids don’t make sense now, will they ever?

Where do mild hybrids fit in?

Conventional hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Fusion hybrid are great rides, but the extra upfront costs of these hybrids scare many consumers away. Even if these cars are more cost-effective than their conventional offerings after a few years, most consumers simply can’t overcome that higher MSRP barrier.

And that’s why mild hybrid cars could make a lot of sense.

Mild hybrids also increase vehicle fuel economy. Sure, the savings aren’t as great as with conventional, full hybrids, but the costs are easier to reconcile — at least compared to full hybrids. But compared to full hybrids, these mild hybrids just don’t offer enough fuel-economy-improving pop.

On the other hand, mild hybrids also don’t provide enough sizzle versus conventional gas-guzzlers. How many are really going to pay a grand or more extra for a couple extra MPGs?

Not many.

By 2020, GM has suggested that mild hybrid cars could become GM’s base powertrain. That sounds good, because there would no longer then be any conventional gas-guzzler comparison. And the improvement in fuel economy across GM’s fleet would be very notable.

Coincidentally; however, that’s also the same time that Toyota is predicting the Prius will outsell the Camry. If that happens, will mild hybrids have a chance?

I bet the 2020′s won’t be the era of mild hybrids. Full hybrids will begin to rule as plug-ins finally start to gain some traction.

If there is a time for mild hybrid cars, it’s right now. Unfortunately, the biggest automotive advocates of mild hybrid technologies appear to have no interest in mainstreaming these vehicles when they could matter most. That, sadly, makes it seem clear that these vehicles have no real future.

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