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Automakers Outline Plans for Plug-in Future

Several new electric cars and plug-in hybrids were unveiled at Detroit autoshow and CES.
January 12, 2011

Nissan and GM have been at the center of attention when it comes to electric vehicles, with the first sales of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf last month, but now Ford and Toyota are weighing in.

The plug-in Prius. Credit: NAIAS

At the Consumer Electronics Show last week and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, Ford has officially unveiled the electric Ford Focus, which will go on sale late this year, along with new hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which will go on sale next year. The plug-in hybrid will travel farther than a conventional hybrid under electric power alone, but Ford isn’t saying how far.

In Detroit Toyota revealed its plans for a family of Prius hybrid vehicles, which includes a plug-in version of the car (due next year), a larger version of the Prius (Prius v, on sale later this year) and a smaller one (Prius c concept).

Toyota’s plan to stick with the successful Prius platform could be wise, as we argue here. These cars (including the plug-in version) use smaller batteries than the Leaf or the Volt, which makes them cheaper.

BYD, the Chinese automaker made famous by an investment from Warren Buffet, says it plans to start selling electric cars in the United States next year, after failing to deliver on a promise to sell the vehicle last year.

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