Feb. 12, 2007: Wired News—Detroit’s Coup de Grace Alan R. Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co.

Summary: Despite protests by Big Auto that battery technology has a long way to go, plug-in hybrid cars are on the road right now, being used every day. They aren’t concepts by Detroit or by Japan, but applications of available technology cobbled together in places like Toronto, Boulder, and Silicon Valley.

"GM’s Chevrolet Volt and Ford’s HySeries Drive, unveiled as concept prototypes for the first time last month, leapfrog current hybrid designs and could put pressure on Toyota’s popular Prius by offering consumers better value. Although these cars are not scheduled for production until the end of the decade or later, many experts now believe plug-ins offer the best tradeoffs combination yet in terms of energy efficiency, emissions and practicality.

"[Philip Reed, the Fuel Economy Guide editor for Edmunds] said plug-in hybrids would enable the companies to surpass hybrids by offering more environmentally friendly vehicles. But he added public relations may be the most practical benefit, at least in the immediate future."

Perhaps demand for plug-in hybrids must reach higher critical mass before Detroit—or indeed, even Japan—will take the idea seriously.

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