GM pledges hybrid cars that come with a plug
LOS ANGELES -- General Motors Corp. became the first automaker Wednesday to commit to building a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle that can be recharged from an electric socket, a move that will lessen dependence on oil and help GM overtake Toyota Motor Co. in environmental leadership.
While the pledge of a plug-in hybrid version of the Saturn Vue lacked details, GM Chairman Rick Wagoner said it was a key part of GM's long-term strategy. Wagoner and other GM executives have said the automaker misunderstood the impact of Toyota's launch of the hybrid Prius in 1999, pledging to get ahead of public opinion in new technologies...
Even though it will be years before an automaker builds a hybrid vehicle with a power cord, touting the promise of plug-ins wins GM and Toyota political points in Washington and among environmentalists. Alexander Karsner, U.S. assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, said Wednesday that President George W. Bush frequently asks about progress in research on plug-in hybrids in cabinet meetings.
That research focuses on several battery problems that need solutions before plug-in hybrids can hit the road. A plug-in hybrid built with current technology would cost thousands of dollars more than a typical hybrid, and its batteries might not survive being drained and recharged completely every day....
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