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According to the 2012 U.S. Automotive Industry Survey and Confidence Index by Booz & Co., alternative vehicle powertrains may take up as much as 10 percent of the total market by 2020, but only if the federal government continues to support development.

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According to the 2012 U.S. Automotive Industry Survey and Confidence Index by Booz & Co., alternative vehicle powertrains may take up as much as 10 percent of the total market by 2020, but only if the federal government continues to support development.

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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You might expect a car with four motors and 3,319 lb-ft of torque to take a great deal of electronics and skill with the right foot to drive properly. If so, you got the electronics part right at least: Audi has created a virtual world for its e-tron electric car that will be featured in Playstation Home later this year.

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Audi e-tron concept -- Click above for high-res image gallery

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Audi e-tron concept -- Click above for high-res image gallery

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Steenstra Styletto – Click above for high-res image gallery

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In January, the UK government set aside £2.3 billion for loan guarantees to help automakers start producing electric cars on the island. In April, Tata applied for £10 billion from the program to build its Indica Vista EV. Last week the Indian firm was told that it would be another eight weeks before the Department for Business Innovation and Skills would decide on Tata's application.

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Even though it's been going on for more than two years now, the tale of the Acura NSX is like a news story that just broke: you have to keep checking back for details, and each subsequent update could turn the whole story on its head. The V10 NSX that was going to own the sports car gods on Mt. Olympus was killed, and a rumored newly resurrected NSX is said to be a V6 hybrid that will challenge Toyota's own will-they/won't-they FT-HS/Supra.

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Mike and Maaike's Autonomobile – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ratan Tata, Jaguar's owner, knows that the future of the company rests on "shiny and new" products. That's why the XE roadster was reportedly moved to the front of the line and given a 2011 release date. If the soothsayers at Motor Trend are correct, Tata also understands that cleaner engines are the future of the industry itself, because the XE could also bolster Jaguar's credentials by reportedly including the option of a Volt-like range-extending hybrid drivetrain.

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Audi is developing the groundwork for an entirely new way of building its cars. The future for the four rings is light weight, giving it the proper base to support the best hybrid and electric cars, as well as extract the most from its traditional offerings.

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Aside from the bridge loans supplied to GM by the federal government, GM had applied for $10.3 billion from the Energy Department. Of that amount, $2.6 billion was meant to be devoted to building the Chevy Volt and two derivatives of it, as well as a third hybrid model. May is when the Energy Department will begin approving those loan requests.

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2010 Honda Insight - click above for a high-res gallery

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Nissan appears to feel the electricity in the air, and has said it is open to selling its EV to retail consumers two years ahead of schedule. That doesn't mean it will go on sale everywhere -- said a Nissan rep, "if a market is ready for it, we'll go ahead earlier." When it does arrive, it will be a "uniquely designed stand-alone model" that will focus attention on the brand and its EV credentials.

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General Motors isn't saying how it plans to do it, but according to our friends at PickupTrucks.com, it is saying that consumers are "...going to see substantial improvements in towing capability in our next hybrids." Right now, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and GMC Sierra Hybrid can pull 6,100 pounds with their electrically-assisted, multi-displacement 6.0-liter V8 engines. The improvement will be "up to 50% more," meaning a tow rating of 9,000 pounds could be coming this way.

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The current Volkswagen Golf (a.k.a. "Rabbit"), which is a 2010 model, hasn't made it through the front nine, and already the next Golf is being teed up behind it. The new model is planned for 2012, two years earlier than planned, perhaps because VW wants to recast what the Golf represents with a return to frugal-yet-sporty motoring.

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Peugeot plans to offer its 3008 CUV with a diesel-electric hybrid by 2011. The step after that is to add plug-in capability, but those plans have been pushed back "a year or two" because of the economy. With R&D budgets pinched by slim sales, the investment in the technology simply can't be justified right now, especially in light of Peugeot's assertion that such cars will sell in "in the tens of thousands, not millions."

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