Despite the hyperbole, the introduction of PHEVs in numbers significant enough to reduce the amount of gasoline we consume is years away.
Forgive attendees of Plug-in 2008, the first-ever conference on plug-in hybrids, held this week in San Jose, for being enthusiastic, even ecstatic.
After all, the number of conference participants - 600 - exceeded expectations. Nearly 1,000 paying customers came to the show's only public event. Top-notch industry speakers and panelists took center stage. Here, many of them opined, is a technology that will change the world.
"The 20th century was the century of gasoline and the internal-combustion engine," enthused Elie Saheb, vice president of technology for Hydro-Quebec, Canada's largest utility. "The 21st will be the century of electricity and plug-in hybrids."
Under the new 2008 standards, EPA estimates that the Toyota Highlander Hybrid will get 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. This is 10 mpg better in the city than the regular gasoline models will receive.
The hybrid components, including the 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, add about 400 pounds to the truck's weight. Engineers took out 320 of that by making lighter seats, making the hood and rear hatch out of aluminum and removing some unneeded bits such as the starter motor and alternator.