Huge promise, but a slow-go for the foreseeable future

Nov 01, 2008 | 05:25 AM |

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) market stands poised to take off, but don't expect it to be an overnight sensation, according to analysts following developments in the industry.

"It's definitely going to be a very big market, but not as quick to materialize as some people think," according to Bradley Berman, who operates a consumer information Web site ( in Oakland, Calif. "There is no lithium-ion battery on the market right now, so it will roll out slowly. And all the manufacturers have problems as they overpromise and underperform."

The leaders in developing lithium-ion batteries—the gold standard because they are needed for advanced power systems—are Japanese companies, including Moriguchi-based Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Panasonic (Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.), who are supplying Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Ford Motor Co.

While there are small original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) trying to play the game, the bigger automakers will control the market, Berman said. "It's very difficult for smaller companies to make a major breakthrough due to the capital investment required, including stringent crash testing and roadworthiness requirements."....

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