What's next? A Look Ahead to 2004
Another technology faces a critical year as automakers try to expand hybrid power, which combines a gas engine with an electric motor to get up to 60 miles per gallon.
Toyota and Honda have the only mass-produced hybrids, and sales have been brisk enough that Toyota is boosting the planned 2004 production of its hybrid compact Prius. Toyota also will offer hybrid versions of its Sienna van and Highlander SUV, with other automakers, including Ford, General Motors, and Lexus, following suit with their own hybrid trucks or SUVs. Many in the industry say that spreading hybrid power to larger vehicles would have far greater environmental and fuel savings impact, since many smaller vehicles are already fuel efficient and clean.
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