Mazda to Begin Selling its Tribute Hybrid SUV in Mid-2007
January 10, 2007
Mazda is displaying the new 2008 Tribute Hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV) at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan. Mazda's first production hybrid features a four-cylinder engine mated to a 70-kilowatt motor for a combined power of 155 horsepower. The 2.3-liter engine runs on the Atkinson combustion cycle, which delays the closure of the intake valve, allowing the throttle to open wider and avoiding the energy losses caused by the engine trying to suck air through a small throttle opening. The hybrid system is combined with a continuously variable transmission, allowing the Tribute Hybrid to perform like a vehicle with a 200-horsepower V-6 engine while using only about 60 percent as much gasoline in city driving. The vehicle can also run on 100 percent electric power at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Mazda plans to begin selling the vehicle in mid-2007. See the press release from Mazda's parent company, the Ford Motor Company.
While Ford continues to expand its hybrid models, Toyota Motor Corporation remains the leader in hybrid sales in the United States. Toyota sold 191,742 hybrid vehicles in the United States in 2006, including nearly 107,000 Prius hybrids. Prius sales are actually down slightly for the year, a trend many attribute to the reduction in federal tax credits for the vehicle, although the vehicle's December sales were actually up slightly compared to December 2005. American Honda, the second biggest hybrid seller, trailed Toyota by a wide margin, with total hybrid sales of 37,573 vehicles. The Honda Civic Hybrid saw a 21.2 percent increase in sales in 2006, and even the discontinued Insight experienced an 8.8 percent gain in sales, but Accord Hybrid sales dropped by two thirds, causing Honda to sell 13 percent fewer hybrids in 2006 than it did in 2005. Ford and General Motors did not disclose their hybrid vehicle sales for the year. See the press releases from Toyota and Honda.