Case Study: Hybrid Consumer Vehicles

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[. . .] The easy availability of refined oil for transportation is going to slow down at some point in the near future. When that happens, it will be a major disruption that will impact both traditional auto manufacturers and to a lesser extent, those who have invested heavily in hybrid and electric vehicles.

4. This brings me to the question of disruptions: whether the hybrid car is itself disruptive, and what its behavior will be when it experiences disruption. Although hybrid technology challenges old habits of fossil fuel use, it does not disrupt them in a significant way. Like the Ford automobile's initial effect on the horse-drawn carriage, the hybrid car supports the market for other objects that behave in much the same way (Shane, 2009). The disruptive effect of hybrid technology can only arise if hybrid cars begin to perform dramatically differently from standard-engine cars, requiring adjustments to infrastructure and human habit. Hybrid technology itself has not experienced dramatic disruptions in the market. The most likely disruption that I see arising from hybrid cars' development is actually a disruption to the evolution of the hybrid car, and the one that will most likely spell its demise as an innovation: the development and bringing to market of viable consumer plug-in Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). BEVs would not have had as much funding and support as they needed if hybrid technology had not been both a stopgap and a proof of concept that consumers were ready for something new. BEVs will require new infrastructure, whether it be charging stations, traffic changes, battery-swap stations, or other adjustments to the way we "do" driving currently. However, these disruptions will probably be delayed until sufficient consumer demand exists for hydrogen-cell and other BEVs. Nevertheless, if my projections are correct, BEVs may be the disruption that overtakes hybrid sales by 2020.

5. During this likely disruption, customers of the new technology will probably be former owners of the old technology, or first-time car buyers who are choosing between a BEV and a more "traditional" hybrid. People who retain loyalty to hybrid technology may be entering into a more conservative phase of life. This is reflected in Toyota's expansion of the Prius brand into the minivan market with the Prius Alpha. BEV technology is still several years away from the success that even the Honda Insight achieved when it first entered the market, and early adopters of subcompact cars are already being lured by such varied options as the Mini Cooper and the Smart Car. As the newness of the Smart Car fades and BEV technology advances, however, the market may be ready for fully-electric subcompact vehicles. BEV may also overtake hybrid engines in the small sedan category as well. It is doubtful that the demographic and cultural variables that describe the average hybrid driver will change radically, and it seems likely that BEV owners will be cut from similar, if not the very same, cloth. Many families that now own a Prius may trade it in for a BEV, or add one in a return to the 2-car family model, with a lower carbon impact.

6. Customer characteristics for hybrid car buyers will mostly evolve along with age. People grow slightly more conservative as they age, more concerned with safety and comfort and less concerned with idealistic goals or the speed of technological progress. In ten years, pending the development of the BEV, people who buy hybid cars will still be single professionals and those with new families, who can afford to pay a premium for ecological ideals and are willing to sacrifice some room, speed, and leather trim for the sense that they are helping save the planet. Hybrids may also become the "post-midlife-crisis" vehicle of choice for empty nesters who felt compelled to own a minivan while their children lived at home.

References

Elfalan, J. (2008). 2008 Tesla Roadster - First Drive. Road and Track, online January 24, 2008, retrieved March 10, 2011. http://www.roadandtrack.com/tests/drives/2008-tesla-roadster

Kanazawa, S. (2010). Why liberals and atheists are more intelligent. Social Psychology Quarterly, 73 (1): 33-57.

Jaruzelski, B., Dehoff, M., & Bordia, R. (2004) The Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation 1000. New York: Booz Allen Hamilton.

Shane, S. (2009). Technology strategy for managers and entrepreneurs (1 st ed.).

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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Hybrid Consumer Vehicles.  (2011, March 17).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/hybrid-consumer-vehicles/7069925

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