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USA: King of miles per gallon

Automotive trends, technology and fuel economy bring one thing to mind: hybrids.

Of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in the U.S. during 2011, only 2.5 percent were hybrids. The figure includes electric vehicles sales leaders Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. The total hybrid sales for the segment was 268,752 units.

Hybrids were formally introduced to the U.S. in 2000 when the first–generation Honda Insight chased across the American landscape. Since then, Hybrid sales have reached 2,157,723 units.

Toyota Prius is the hybrid sales leader with over 1 million sold. The Prius now represents 50.6 percent of the hybrid market share. The No. 2 spot is held by Honda with their Civic Hybrid with sales of 209,216 since 2002.

Leading the total cumulative hybrid units sold by an American manufacturer is Ford Motor Co. with Ford Escape Hybrid racking up 116,556 sales since its introduction in 2004. The Ford Fusion Hybrid, in the market since 2009, has sold 47,656 units.

The latest trend in Hybrids continues to be the ongoing technology efforts directed at electric hybrids – classified as battery/engine electric vehicles, or EV.

Plug–in convenience

A pure battery powered EV receives its power from a 120 or 240 electric outlet that charges the batteries. The battery/engine EVs use the electric outlet charge also, but use a supplemental engine powered by gasoline or diesel fuel.

Nissan Leaf, the pure battery or electric–only vehicle, has received favorable consumer comments with most finding the 100-mile range on a full charge to be workable. A 240 outlet for charging is a must, however, with a full charge taking approximately 7 mto 8 hours. Using a 120 outlet for charging is generally not practical as it takes approximately 20 hours for a full charge.

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