Vehicles of the Future Likely to be More Plugged In

GM executives said they expected the first of their electric cars to be brought to market as early as 2010.

Published: 15-Jan-2007

The electric car, derided as impractical by automakers since General Motors Corp. pulled the plug on its revolutionary EV1, is staging a comeback in the United States amid lofty fuel prices and persistent worries about the nation's dependence on imported oil.

GM, the chief villain in the recent documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" had plans for a new family of electric vehicles as the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit began its four-day media preview last Sunday.

In addition, Ford Motor Co. is planning a hydrogen-powered electric car concept of its own, and Toyota Motor Corp. is working on major improvements in the batteries used in its popular Prius gasoline-electric hybrid. The enhancements could extend the five-seat sedan's all-electric range and boost overall fuel economy to as much as 90 miles per gallon.

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Tongji University and Shanghai Maple Automobile, a privately run car manufacturer, are working together to design three models of hybrid cars, which are expected to go into small-scale production in 2008. SMA is a subsidiary of China's largest carmaker, Geely.

Even longtime hybrid doubters like Robert Lutz, vice chairman of GM, are admitting that the systems have gone mainstream. Photo: Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Mahindra unveiled India's first SUV with the advantage of a hybrid powertrain called Scorpio-HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) at the ongoing New Delhi Auto Expo.

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