Mild hybrid vehicles will never be as successful as full hybrids according to a recent report, but they could still have a large impact.

Will lithium help sell mild hybrids?

Just a glorified start/stop system?

While Honda was the early bird in the hybrid game, Honda’s hybrids have never been able to compete with Toyota Prius sales, and Honda’s less electric hybrid powertrain is one big reason for this difference.

Likewise, GM’s mild hybrid powertrain was even significantly less successful than Honda’s.

Of course, today, Honda is still selling mild hybrids, while GM is not. Eventually, however, GM will upgrade its mild hybrid powertrain with a new lithium battery pack and a few other tweaks.

Still, will mild hybrids ever be as successful as the Prius? Is there even a business case for mild hybrids?

According to a new report, just after 2012 selling mild hybrids might become more difficult than ever as direct injection and turbocharging become more common and cheaper in conventional vehicles, and as the costs of full hybrid cars, such as the Prius, decline.

Nonetheless, by 2015 there could be a market for up to 1 million mild hybrids worldwide per year – or 2 percent of global sales, the report notes. On the other hand the same research finds that full hybrids will achieve 3 times that sale’s figure.

Thus, it seems mild hybrid vehicles might develop into an interesting niche, but they will never compete with full hybrid cars. Moreover, the sale’s potential of mild hybrids could soon peak, just as full hybrids are projected to make serious gains in new vehicle market share.

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