As Production Soars, Hybrids Move into the Mainstream
With Al Gore III barrelling down a California highway in his Toyota Prius at 105 mph, hybrid gas-electric cars may be at the tipping point of becoming a mainstream item in America.
Hybrids, which operate with gasoline engines coupled with a bank of high-tech batteries and an electric motor, are in hot demand seven years after Toyota's Prius hit the market. More manufacturers are building hybrids, but the supply isn't enough to meet demand and prices are at or above manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP).
U.S. hybrid sales advanced 23 percent last year to 253,000 vehicles, and they rose another 55 percent in the first six months of 2007, with analysts expecting a doubling of units sold for the full year. With total hybrid production to date at less than 1 million cars, and Toyota accounting for three-quarters of that, analysts expect that America's appetite for the technology would hardly seem to be satisfied.
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