It was "Who Killed the Electric Car" vs. "Hydrogen is not Ready for Prime Time" at the Zero Emissions Vehicle symposium. At least that's the way automotive journalist Lou Ann Hammond described the action from her ringside seat.

She felt the tension as automakers stated their positions and expressed their goals. The hydrogen proponents - BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Honda and GM - made their case. Then came Toyota with its efforts firmly behind hybrids and future plug-in hybrids. But Toyota started with an essay on the benefits of hydrogen and a wrapup of its fuel-cell fleets. When the subject turned to "economic sense," everyone hoped Toyota would officially announce a new plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) was coming.

First there was a history lesson of the RAV4 plug-in hybrid that used nickel metal hydride batteries. After the excessive ad costs and discounts, the program just didn't suceed. For everyone who purchased a RAV4 PHEV, 15 purchased a Prius. In other words, no plug-in hybrid joy at this event. In a summation statement from Hammond: "Not all buyers value technoogy the same way."


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