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PHOTO CAPTION: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is expected to get 45 mpg combined.

U.S. Car Buyers to Get 43 New Fuel Efficient Cars Models By 2015

The market share of alternative fuel vehicles will climb to almost 5 percent in that year, compared to nearly 3 percent today.

Published: 21-Sep-2012

SANTA MONICA -- At least 43 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, diesel and fuel-cell electric vehicles will be introduced to the U.S. market by the 2015 model year, according Edmunds.com, the premier resource for automotive information. As a result, Edmunds.com projects that the market share of alternative fuel vehicles will climb to almost 5 percent in that year, compared to nearly 3 percent today.

"One of the reasons these vehicles haven't quite taken off yet is that there just aren't enough choices that appeal to shoppers," says Edmunds.com Green Car Editor John O'Dell. "But the competitive landscape promises to expand significantly over the next few years, and it's likely that a vehicle with some type of electric drive or alternative fuel will wind up on your consideration list the next time you shop for a new vehicle."

Chevrolet and Ford are expected to introduce the most new "alt-drive" vehicles through the 2015 model year, with four apiece. Chevy's offerings will be headlined by its popular Cruze model, which will be introduced as a diesel version in 2013 and as a plug-in electric hybrid in 2014. Ford, meanwhile, will offer its C-Max Energi and C-Max Hybrid by the end of this year. The Fusion Energi will be available early next year.

Some other notable alternative vehicles expected to hit the market in the next few years include:

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: A cooperative effort by Toyota and Tesla Motors, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV combines the body and interior of Toyota's popular small crossover with the battery and electric motor system found in the new Tesla Model S sedan. Initially, it will be sold only in California in just one trim level and with no options. The EV will cost $50,610 before any tax incentives or government rebates.

2013 BMW i3: This battery-powered EV will be a four-passenger subcompact. Occupants will sit in a lightweight carbon-fiber passenger cell that rides on an aluminum chassis. The 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pack will deliver a range close to 93 miles and funnel sufficient power to the 170-hp electric motor for a 0-60-mph acceleration time of just under 8 seconds. BMW has promised a two-cylinder gasoline generator as an option to extend cruising range.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid: Arriving late in 2012, VW's first hybrid will boast a new, 150-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, a 27-hp electric motor that draws power from a 1.1 kWh lithium battery and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The Jetta Hybrid is expected to get an EPA fuel economy rating of around 45 mpg combined.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid: Mitsubishi wants to be among the first to market with a plug-in hybrid SUV. The Outlander PHEV, which will arrive early in 2014, will feature an all-wheel-drive system powered by electric motors, plus a gasoline engine that will deliver several hundred miles of range and allow for continuous operation even when there's no charger available for the battery pack.

2015 Tesla Midsize Car: The third-generation Tesla has not yet been named, but it will be the company's shot at the mainstream, midsize family-car market with an electric car that's priced under $45,000. The carmaker is discussing a multiple-model lineup, including a sedan and a crossover. Tesla chairman Elon Musk says he's hoping for an early 2015 launch, but considers this an aspiration, not a promise.

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