This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 16, 2008

GM, Toyota, and Fisker to Launch Plug-In Hybrids by 2010

Domestic, foreign, and specialty automakers arrived at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, with plans to launch a commercial version of their plug-in hybrid concepts by 2010. The Saturn division of General Motors Corporation (GM) is the latest to join the plug-in hybrid bandwagon and plans to be the first with a full-production product, as the company announced its intent to launch a plug-in version of the Saturn Vue Green Line SUV as early as 2010. The Saturn Vue Green Line Plug-In Hybrid, which made its world debut at the auto show, combines a lithium-ion battery pack with GM's dual-mode hybrid system. The vehicle's battery pack can be recharged in four to five hours by plugging it into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet, and in early testing, the batteries allowed the vehicle to travel for more than 10 miles at low speeds using electric-only propulsion. GM has also suggested that its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid may be released by 2010. See the GM press release.

Toyota Motor Corporation is taking a more conservative approach, with plans to sell plug-in hybrids only to fleet customers in the United States and elsewhere by 2010. Toyota does not say which vehicle will be available as a plug-in hybrid, though most industry observers expect it to be a new version of the Prius. The vehicle will feature a lithium-ion battery pack, and Toyota is currently investigating the feasibility of mass production at a battery plant in central Japan, owned by Panasonic EV Energy Company, Limited, a joint venture of Toyota and the Matsushita Group. Toyota is also providing its plug-in hybrid prototypes for an executive shuttle service at the auto show. See the Toyota press releases on the 2010 plans and the current prototypes.

Photoshop illustration of the Fisker Karma, a muscular four-door sports car.

The Fisker Karma may be the first plug-in hybrid vehicle to enter production.
Credit: Fisker Automotive

And last but not least, specialty automaker Fisker Automotive has unveiled the prototype of the car that Earl Hickey would drive: the Fisker Karma. Featuring a lithium-ion battery pack and a plug-in hybrid system developed by Quantum Technologies, the Fisker Karma is designed to travel up to 50 miles using only its electric drive. The luxury sports sedan is currently slated to beat its competitors to market, with initial deliveries starting in late 2009. The vehicle will feature an all-aluminum body, with an optional solar roof. The Fisker Karma will have an annual production of only 15,000 cars, and unfortunately, most of us would need to win the lottery to afford it: the starting price for the vehicle is $80,000. See the Fisker Automotive Web site and press release (PDF 95 KB). Download Adobe Reader.