Hybrid Cars Are Catching On

Automakers still cautious about the technology.

Published: 28-Jan-2003

DETROIT, Jan. 27 — Hybrids, vehicles that save gasoline by combining electric motors with internal combustion engines, are emerging as the first alternative-powered cars to show signs of catching on with automakers and some consumers since the automobile's early days.

Toyota and Honda are already selling tens of thousands of hybrids, and General Motors and Ford, worried about ceding another fast-moving market to the Japanese, have announced plans to join them. The hybrid's rise has been encouraged by pressure from environmentalists and regulators, particularly California rules curbing greenhouse gases and smog-forming pollutants.

"Hybrid technology is one that has great appeal because we don't have to really invent anything; we know they work," said William Clay Ford Jr., Ford's chairman, in a recent speech. "If these vehicles don't get customer acceptance, I really don't know what we do next."

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