Four out of five General Motors vehicles sold in the United States will have to be hybrids by 2020, according to Bob Lutz, the company’s product guru. Speaking at the New York Auto Show, Lutz said, “Ultimately by 2020 we figure that 80 percent of vehicles will require some sort of hybridization,” because of new U.S. fuel- economy standards. “We cannot get to 35 miles per gallon with anything resembling the current product portfolio with anything resembling current technology.”
In a Bloomberg News report yesterday, Lutz targeted the percentage of hybrid sales to approximately 30 percent by 2015. “Around 2015 we’re going to have to sell a ton of hybrids whether people want them or not.” He added, “It’s basically going to result in the quasi-disappearance of V-8 engines.”
Lutz comments echo earlier predictions from the company. Last year, Larry Burns, GM’s vice-president of research and development, predicted that hybrid-electric vehicles, coupled with flexible-fuel models, could account for as much as 80 percent of the cars and trucks sold in the United States by 2030,” according to the New York Times. Hybrids from General Motors currently comprise less than one percent of the hybrid market. In February, Saturn hybrids sold approximately 30 units and the company did not report sales for Chevrolet hybrids.
Predictions from GM’s chief hybrid competitors—Toyota, Ford and Honda—are consistent with Lutz’s assessment. Masatami Takimoto, Toyota executive vice president in charge of powertrain development, expects hybrids to account for “100 percent” of Toyota’s vehicles by 2020. Speaking at the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Hybrid Symposium back in 2005, John German, manager of environmental and energy analyses for American Honda, stated “Hybrids could reach 50 to 70 percent of the market in 10 years.” At that time, Michael Tamor, manager of Ford’s Sustainable Mobility Technologies, said, “If you think about the 15- to 20-year timeframe, you could argue that all vehicles are going to be hybrids. It’s just a matter of which powerplant is used in the hybrid system.”
New fuel economy and carbon emissions laws, rising oil prices, and advances in battery technology are increasing the likelihood of these prognostications.