The Honda CR-Z is a new hybrid concept that aims to add a sportier element to the technology.

Honda

One of the biggest challenges automakers are having with the current push for more hybrid car technology has a lot to do with perception. Certainly one image most auto companies want to convey to their audience is how "green" a hybrid car is. Most people understand that the point of hybrids is to place an emphasis on better fuel efficiency. By switching between an electric motor and a gasoline engine, hybrid cars stretch out the mileage achieved by each tank of fuel -- the less fuel we consume over the lifetime of a car, the less of an impact we have on the environment around us.

But a more difficult issue automakers are dealing with is that of the image of hybrid cars as slow or lacking power. Gasoline engines generally provide a good deal of horsepower and a fair amount of torque, and therefore they accelerate quickly. But because the gasoline engines in most hybrid cars are typically smaller, they don't produce quite as much acceleration. Some drivers -- especially the ones more acquainted with sportier engines -- might not like this aspect and may tend to shy away from hybrid technology, sticking solely to their fossil fuel-powered cars.

But some car makers are thinking of ways to introduce much faster hybrids, and both the interior and exterior of the newer models might start looking and driving a whole lot better. One such model is the Honda CR-Z, which on the outside is quite a departure from previous Honda models like the Civic Hybrid. Honda's focus with the new car looks to be less about the fact that it's a hybrid and more about its sporty nature. CR-Z stands for "Compact Renaissance Zero," hinting not just at the car's small size but also at a brand new start in fundamentals and design.

The Honda CR-Z began as a concept and wasn't slated for production until as late as 2011 or even 2012. However, Honda has moved that date up -- most likely due to changing fuel standards and more demand for fuel-efficient technology -- so now the hybrid remains set for a late 2010 release.