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Jay Leno's Green Car Challenge Ford Focus EV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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We heard from Ford CEO Alan Mulally yesterday about his company's overall work with the U.S. government on energy policy. He's not the only Ford representative at the show worth talking to at the Washington Auto Show, though, and we got to sit down with Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of global electrification, for an update on the company's plug-in vehicle projects.

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Yesterday's second annual Green Car Summit was not nearly as fiery as last year's discussion, and maybe that's a good thing.

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One of the favored concepts among many electric vehicle proponents (and, most prominently, Better Place) is replaceable battery packs as a means of "rapid refueling." However, aside from Nissan-Renault, no other major automaker has expressed any interest in the idea in the near term. Even Nissan is hedging its bets and the LEAF is not expected to include a swappable battery.

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Jay Leno's Green Car Challenge Ford Focus EV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ford Escape PHEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Click the plug-in hybrid Escape for a high res gallery

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Following the reveal of the Ford Fusion Hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto show last week, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technology Nancy Gioia spoke with Green Fuels Forecast about a number of topics. Top of the list, of course, was the new hybrid sedan and the fact that Ford has decided not to make its hybrids more visually distinct from conventional cars. The Fusion is just the latest of Ford's hybrid programs, but the most advanced is the plug-in hybrid Escape that Ford is testing with

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The TechKnow forum on Alternative Fuel Cars in Ann Arbor last night featured some of the green car industry's biggest names and an appreciative audience of about 500 people. Moderated by Jean Jennings, president of Automobile Magazine, the two-hour event featured one hour of formal presentations by five well-spoken presenters and then a free-wheeling Q&A session with the audience. That's where the good stuff happened.

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Ford's director of hybrid programs, Nancy Gioia delivered a speech at the Automotive News World Congress, in Dearborn and revealed that Ford is considering building a plug-in hybrid vehicle. So far, Ford's hybrid efforts have been limited to the Escape/Mariner/Tribute, although a Fusion hybrid is under development and should be available some time in 2008.

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