Automakers are pressing the PHEV pedal to the metal

Nov 01, 2008 | 05:24 AM |

As original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) race to develop plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), there also is a pursuit for new battery technologies that will carry the vehicles further, and faster on a single charge.

Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., is currently testing 20 plug-in versions of its Escape sport utility vehicle (SUV) with Rosemead, Calif.-based electric utility Southern California Edison. The Escape plug-in uses lithium-ion batteries from Johnson Controls-Saft, a joint venture between Johnson Controls Inc., Milwaukee, and Paris-based Saft Groupe SA, the world's leading manufacturer of nickel-cadmium batteries for industrial applications and lithium batteries for various end-users.

The test is expected to last three years.

"Based on typical American driving, a fleet of vehicles such as our Escape plug-in hybrid has the potential of displacing 60 percent of fuel consumption nationally," Mark Fields, Ford's executive vice president, said at a PHEV conference in Washington.....

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