Sooo many power source prototypes, sooo little time

Nov 01, 2008 | 05:22 AM |

Soaring fuel costs have left automakers reeling, with the impact on their bottom lines forcing many to slash jobs, close some plants and retool others to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. The need to economize is driving a revolution of sorts the rise of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Electricity is 50 to 75 percent cheaper than the equivalent cost of a gallon of gas. The mix of energy sources used to generate North America's electricity supply is also lower priced and more stable than that of oil.

The race is on to come up with the best power source for electric vehicles, and there's no shortage of contenders. The two leading technologies appear to be lithium-ion and upgraded nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

Tokyo-based automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd., the leaders of PHEV technology, are leaning toward the NiMH battery, while Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and NEC Corp., also based in Tokyo, are developing a high-powered lithium-ion battery.....

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