Hybrid Vehicle Timeline

A Recent History Of Hybrids

Hybrid technology began long before we could buy a hybrid car, but in 1997 Toyota released something called the Prius, dramatically changing the way cars were powered. These days we see new hybrid-electric vehicles come to market every few months – and from all the big automakers. A few of these hybrid vehicles have stood the test of time, but many were around for only a year or two before being discontinued – usually due to slow sales. Many people who are just becoming interested in hybrids may never have known these vehicles existed.

A few years ago one website (hybridcenter.org) offered a historical timeline of hybrid vehicles that gave us some basic information about every hybrid car introduced since 1997. That website went offline in 2012 along with a note that it would no longer be updated due to insufficient resources. Over the past several months, we have been working to recreate that hybrid timeline. Our next goal is to bring the timeline back up-to-date by adding all the new hybrids introduced in 2013, 2014, and the current year. Please check back for updates soon.

1997        

1997-toyota-prius1997 Toyota Prius

  • 5 seat compact
  • The world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle
  • Launched in Japan only
  • 37,000 sold in Japan before introduction in the U.S. in 2000
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

1999      

 

2000 Honda Insight

  • EPA Estimate 53 mpg (manual), 47 mpg (automatic)
  • EPA Smog Score: 2 (manual), 6 (automatic)
  • The first hybrid vehicle available in the United States.
  • Production ended in September 2006.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2000      

2001 Prius2001 Toyota Prius

  • 5 seat compact car
  • EPA Estimated 41 mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 3
  • Toyota sold 37,000 in Japan before launching in the U.S.
  • Availability limited to 12,000 vehicles per year in U.S
  • Production ended in 2003 when was replaced by the second generation Prius
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2002      

 

2003 Honda Civic Hybrid

  • 5 seat compact
  • EPA Estimated 41 combined mpg (lean-burn), 40 combined mpg (CA-emissions)
  • EPA Smog Score: 3 (lean-burn), 9 (CA-emissions)
  • It uses lean-burn engine technology for models outside of California in order to boost fuel economy, but this technology also increases smog-forming emissions.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

2003      

 

2004 Prius2004 Toyota Prius

  • 5 seat midsize car
  • EPA Estimated 46 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • The first hybrid midsize car
  • Named 2004 Car of the Year by Motor Trend
  • Over 700,000 were sold in the U.S.
  • Production ends in 2009 when it’s replaced by the third generation Prius
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

 2004

2005 Ford Escape Hybrid

  • 5 seat compact SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.5-7.0; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated 29-32 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Discontinued in 2013 and replaced by a conventional gas-powered Ford Escape with a 1.6-liter “EcoBoost” engine that is expected to get better highway fuel economy than the Escape Hybrid
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2005 accord2005 Honda Accord Hybrid

  • 5 seat sedan
  • EPA Estimated 27 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • The first mainstream use of hybrid technology to gain “muscle hybrid” status, which means boosting performance more than fuel economy
  • Discontinued after the 2007 model year due to poor sales
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2005

2006 lexus rx2006 Lexus RX 400h

  • 5 seat midsize SUV
  • EPA Estimated 26-27 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Total power output of 268 hp
  • Replaced by the more efficient RX 450h in 2010
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2006 highlander2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • 7 seat midsize SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-7.1; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated 28 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Offers a 32 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared to the conventional Highlander
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

 

2006 civic2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

  • 5 seat compact
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Score-7.2; Forced Features-$$$
  • EPA Estimated 41 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Significantly redesigned in 2006
  • Offers a 29 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared to the conventional Civic
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2006

2007 camry2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid

  • 5 seat midsize
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.1; Forced Features-$
  • EPA estimated 33 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • The first Toyota hybrid to be built in America
  • In 2009 it achieved a 27 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared to the conventional Camry, but in 2011 the reduction dropped to 21 percent
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2008 lexus2007 Lexus GS 450h

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-4.5; Forced Features-$
  • EPA estimated 23 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2007

2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid

  • 5 seat midsize)
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-5.7; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA estimated 33 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Nissan uses Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2008 lexus LS6002008 Lexus LS 600h L

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-4.1; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA estimated 20 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

  • 8 seat full-size SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-4.3; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
    • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • The first full-size hybrid SUV and the first vehicle of any kind to use GM’s two-mode hybrid system
  • Its impressive two-mode, full-hybrid drivetrain should have been used to bring much more to the table, but instead GM failed to fully take advantage of the hybrid technology and used an upsized 6.0-liter V8 engine
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2009 gmc yukon2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid

  • 8 seat full-size SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-4.3; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Nearly identical to the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid

  • 5 seat compact SUV)
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value: Medium; Environmental Improvement Score-7.4; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated 28-32 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 7
  • Based on the Ford Escape Hybrid drivetrain
  • Discontinued in 2011
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2008        

2008 durango2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid

  • Full-size SUV with 8 seats
  • EPA estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • It used a tough 5.7 L V8 Hemi.
  • Discontinued after just two months of production
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

  • Full-size SUV with 8 seats
  • EPA estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Almost identical to the Dodge Durango Hybrid
  • Discontinued in 2010.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

  • Full-size SUV with 8 seats
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Improvement Score-5.0-5.6; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • The only SUV to achieve the “Very Good” range for Hybrid Value
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

 

2009      

2009 silverado2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid

  • Full0size pickup
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Poor-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-3.7-4.3; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid

  • Full-size pickup
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Poor; Environmental Score-3.7-4.3; Forced Features-$
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Essentially a twin of the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
  • Gets the same fuel efficiency as the Sierra Hybrid 2WD
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010      

2010 benz 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

  • 4 passenger mid-size SUV
  • EPA Estimated 22 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Uses the two-mode system that was developed in partnership with BMW and GM
  • Has a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine that puts out 275-horsepower, and two electric motors
  • All-wheel drive
  • Discontinued in 2011
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 S400 HYBRID2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

  • 4 passenger luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Superior; Environmental Improvement Score-5.2; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Downsized to a V6 engine from V8 in the S550

 

2010 fusion2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

  • Midsize car with seating for 5
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Improvement Score-7.8; Forced Features-$$$
  • EPA Estimated 39 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Able to reach 47 mph in pure electric mode
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

  • 4 passenger midsize car
  • EPA Estimated 39 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • The luxury sedan version of the Ford Fusion
  • Discontinued in 2011

 

2010 Honda Insight

  • 5 seat compact car
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.5; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 41 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Undercuts the Prius in price
  • The only hybrid option on the market for under $20,000 at the time
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 prius2010 Toyota Prius

  • 5 seat midsize car
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Improvement Score-9.2; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 50 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Highest fuel economy of any car on the U.S. market at the time
  • Larger, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient than the previous model
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 lexus rx4502010 Lexus RX 450h

  • 5 seat midsize SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-9.2; Forced Features-$
  • EPA Estimated 29-30 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • This model replaced Lexus’ first hybrid SUV, the RX 400h
  • The first midsize SUV to achieve 30 mpg rating from the EPA
  • Utilizes a more efficient Atkinson combustion cycle in its gas engine. Combine that with a hybrid drivetrain and it gives the RX450h significant global warming emissions reductions.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 lexus hs2502010 Lexus HS 250h

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Improvement Score-7.0; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 35 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • A pioneer in choosing to cut back the gasoline engine to provide an emissions and efficiency-focused hybrid option in the luxury class
  • In the top tier of hybrids for emissions performance
  • The use of a more efficient gasoline engine paired with the hybrid system allows for comparable acceleration performance to the IS 250; most other hybrids boost acceleration and in turn lose some efficiency.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

  • 5 seat SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-3.2; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated 18 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Discontinued in 2011
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Superior; Environmental Improvement Score-9.5; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 39 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Offers a 46 percent reduction in global warming emissions over the conventional MKZ
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2010 dodge ram2011 Dodge Ram Hybrid

  • Full size pickup
  • Supposed to enter the market in 2010, but citing slow sales of Silverado Hybrids, Chrysler decided to stop production in March 2010
  • They will still develop a test group of plug-in hybrid electric Rams as part of a $48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy

 

2011      

2011 volt2011 Chevrolet Volt

  • Midsize car with seating for 4
  • EPA Estimated 93mpg equivalent (electric only) and 36 mpg (gasoline only). Both figures are combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • The first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the U.S. market
  • Can run on electric power alone for 40 miles
  • As soon as the battery has less than 30 percent of its charge left, the engine will kick on to charge the battery and extend the range of the Volt up to 640 miles
  • Can charge fully in less than three hours when plugged into a 240-volt outlet
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

  • 5 seat midsize car
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.8; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 37 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Offers a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the traditional Sonata
  • Uses lithium polymer battery, which Hyundai says is more durable and space-efficient than both nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 Honda CR-Z

  • Only seats 2
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.2; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated 37 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Goes from 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 lexus 200h2011 Lexus CT 200h

  • 5 seat hatchback
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Superior; Environmental Improvement Score-8.6; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 42 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Gives a 43 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared to the IS 250
  • This model marks Lexus’ return to hatchbacks
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 vw touareg2011 VW Touareg Hybrid

  • Midsize SUV with seating for 5
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-8.6; Forced Features-$$$$$
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Only has a 2 mpg improvement over the conventional model
  • Offers a measly 10 percent reduction in global warming pollution; the smallest of any model on the UCS Hybrid Scorecard
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 Infiniti M Hybrid

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-5.5; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 29 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Even though it is a muscle hybrid, it attains a greater reduction in global warming emissions than many other luxury muscle hybrids including the Lexus GS 450h, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, and the BMW ActiveHybrid X6
  • An inadequately performing tailpipe emissions-control system greatly compromises the smog-forming emissions performance
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 porsche2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

  • 5 seat midsize SUV
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-3.7; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 21 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Achieves only a 14 percent reduction in global warming emissions compared with the conventional Cayenne S
  • Also a muscle hybrid
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2011 bmw 750i2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 750i

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Very Poor; Environmental Improvement Score-3.7; Forced Features-$$
  • EPA Estimated 20 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 6
  • Only achieves a 15 percent reduction in global warming emissions over the conventional 750i

 

2012      

2012 civic2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

  • 5 seat compact car
  • EPA Estimated 44 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • This new model uses a lithium ion battery
  • The MSRP for a new 2012 Civic Hybrid was only $100 more than the previous generation, but the fuel economy was boosted from 40 to 44 mpg
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

  • 5 seat sedan
  • EPA Estimated 37 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 8
  • Shares the Hyundai Sonata’s platform and the 40-hp electric motor of the Sonata Hybrid
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2012 Buick Regal with eAssist fuel-saving technology2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • Midsize sedan that seat 5
  • EPA Estimated 29 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 5-9 depending on the region
  • The eAssist mild hybrid system lets the gasoline engine cut off in certain coasting or braking situations and (like all other hybrids) employs regenerative braking technology and automatic shutoffs when it idles
  • Comes with efficiency monitors which inform the driver about the most efficient settings for the car to get the greatest gas mileage
  • Comes in two varieties of four-cylinder conventional variants; the automatic transmission getting 22 mpg, and the manual transmission getting 24mpg

 

2012 buick lacrosse2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

  • 5 seat luxury sedan
  • EPA Estimated 29 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 5-9 depending on the region
  • Also uses GM’s mild hybrid drivetrain

 

2012 prius v2012 Toyota Prius v

  • A 5 seat crossover
  • EPA Estimated 42 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Has 60 percent more cargo space thanks to an extended roofline design
  • Built on the same platform as the Prius midsize and uses the same hybrid drivetrain
  • A version of it, the Prius+, launched in Europe and Japan (as the Prius Alpha). Both these versions will have a third row of seating and use lithium-ion batteries, but only the Prius v will be available in the U.S.
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

2012 Honda Insight

  • 5 seat compact car
  • UCS Hybrid Scorecard Ratings: Hybrid Value-Good; Environmental Improvement Score-6.5; Forced Features-None
  • EPA Estimated 41 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Completely redesigned to improve its efficiency and reduce emissions
  • All trim levels received a new aerodynamic grill to achieve 1 more mile per gallon
  • Continues to use an 88 horsepower, 1.3 liter, four cylinder engine mated to a 13 hp electric engine
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2012 camry2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

  • 5 seat midsize sedan
  • EPA Estimated 41 combined mpg
  • EPA Smog Score: 9
  • Features a revised version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive that includes a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Offers a more-than-30 percent boost in fuel economy compared to the previous generation. Due mostly to the new hybrid powertrain, but also thanks to the lighter vehicle weight and optimized aerodynamics
  • Puts the Camry Hybrid back on top of all other midsize sedans for fuel economy
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

 

2012 prius c2012 Toyota Prius c

  • 5 seat compact
  • EPA Estimated 50 combined mpg
  • The smaller relative of the Prius
  • Made its production debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show
  • Uses a 1.5 liter 73 horsepower gasoline engine and an electric motor that generates 45 kW of electric energy
  • Houses the lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seats
  • Learn more about this vehicle here

Check back soon for updates to the hybrid car timeline. Source: ucsusa.org