How Does 100 MPG Sound?

According to GM, plug-in electric hybrids could be in showrooms within three to five years, and if government incentives hasten their development, they could be coming off assembly lines even sooner.

Published: 15-Jan-2007

Politicians and environmentalists talk a good game about lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Usually absent from the game plan, though, are practical, workable solutions that aren't a decade or more away.

That might be about to change, if policymakers will plug themselves into a revolutionary idea.

General Motors, the kingpin of a U.S. auto industry that's been left in the competitive dust by Japan in fuel efficiency, was the buzz of last week's North American International Auto Show as it previewed its plug-in hybrid electric Chevrolet Volt. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) offer commuters unheard-of fuel savings - in some cases, they could run hundreds of miles on a gallon of gasoline or other, cleaner liquid fuel like biodiesel. And, according to GM, they could be in showrooms within three to five years. If government incentives hasten their development, PHEVs could be coming off assembly lines even sooner.

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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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