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Plug in to new hybrid concepts; Hybrid concepts worthy of study
[ONT Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Author: Clean Break
Date: Aug 1, 2005
Start Page: D.01
Section: Business
Abstract (Document Summary)

(Note Dennis Campbell, president of fuel-cell developer Ballard Power, calls plug-in hybrids an interesting idea but maintains it's only a stopgap toward the inevitable. "Fundamentally you still must rely on the combustion of fossil fuel. That's the soft underbelly of the hybrid or plug-in hybrid strategy," he told the Star last week.)

So why don't the major car manufacturers want to save America? Honda and Ford, which both have hybrid vehicles on the market, did not return calls for comment. DaimlerChrysler is reportedly tinkering with the idea of plug-in hybrids. Toyota, quite understandably, is hostile to the idea of consumers modifying their Prius hybrids, citing potential safety risks, high costs, and warning that such actions will void the manufacturer's warranty.

As lithium-ion technology gets better, lighter, more efficient and cheaper, companies such as Valence, Toshiba Corp. of Japan and Mississauga-based Electrovaya Inc. have set their sites on the plug- in hybrid market. Valence has already modified a Prius with its Saphion technology, giving it 18 times more usable energy and tripling its fuel economy for trips of 100 kilometres or less. But Toyota and other critics of the plug-in hybrid have other dire warnings. They say batteries that are constantly charged, fully drained and charged again will have a short life, requiring a pricey replacement only a few years into owning the vehicle. Consumers won't tolerate that cost.

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