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Nissan can see an upside to the tough new emissions rules in London and turn it into a great promotional opportunity. The London Congestion Charge has been tightened up so that the vehicles that are eligible for exemption from the hefty daily charge of 10 British pounds (a little more than $15 US) that it costs to access the city's downtown streets was recently revised from an emissions threshold of 100 grams per kilometer down to 75g/km.

For car shoppers doing their math on lifecycle ownership costs, hybrid electric vehicles always present the challenge of being more expensive – maybe $5,000 more – than comparable non-hybrid models. High gasoline prices can help tip the scale in favor of gas-electrics, as do great loan and lease deals. Resale value is another factor in the equation, and several hybrid models, including a plug-in hybrid version, have been on the market long enough to show their long-term value.

Plug In America's electric vehicle PSAs – Click above to watch videoes after the jump

First Factory-Built Fisker Karma – Click above for high-res image gallery

2010 Plug-in Prius Prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

We've been chronicling the world of more efficient vehicles for almost four years now, but we're still the new kind on the block compared to long-time organizations like CalCars and that group's leader, Felix Kramer. At a recent meeting of the Electric Auto Association (of which CalCar is also a chapter) in Palo Alto, CA, Kramer took a look back at what CalCar has accomplished over the last eight years or so and, in doing so, created a slide show of the recent history of the plug-in vehicle move

Kia Ray plug-in hybrid concept – Click above to enlarge

Kia Ray plug-in hybrid concept – Click above to enlarge

Koei Saga, the managing officer of the Toyota Motor Corporation, might say that his company is "very excited" to expand plug-in hybrid (PHEV) testing when that's the announcement of the day, but he's also quite willing to give plug-in vehicles a verbal smackdown at other times.

Mercedes-Benz Vision 500 Plug-in HYBRID – Click above for high-res image gallery

Recently, a report came out of the National Academies of Science that declared the costs for plug-in hybrids were "likely to remain high" while the benefits would be "modest for decades." With such a tantalizing bit of contrarianism, how could it not make the pages of the New York Times? The plug-in community responded, pointing out that there were many hydrogen vehicle proponents and oil and gas company people involved in producing the report. It was conducted by the Committee on Assessment of

Reports that hybrid vehicles would continue to be popular are nothing new and seem to be coming true. But a new study by NextGen Research paints a picture that might be a bit too rosy. Maybe.

This week, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers found that plug-in hybrids have to be "affordable" if automakers think that customers will want to buy them. People are interested, U of M says, but cost is paramount to people deciding to make a purchase. Speaking at the Business of Plugging In conference in Detroit this week, Richard Curtin, from the University of Michigan's Institute of Social Research, said that at $10,000, 56 percent of the people surveyed said they wouldn't

Converted plug-in Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

Mitsubishi i MiEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

They won't look like the second-generation Prius plug-in pictured above, but Toyota has announced the first of its non-European leasing programs for its new PHEV (see here). Starting late this year Toyota will start leasing 200 plug-capable Priuses to government and commercial fleets in Japan. A similar program has been mentioned by Toyota executives for the U.S. market in the past and an announcement on that should probably be coming soon.

We all know that there is a hardcore group of consumers out there chanting the mantra of "No plug, no sale!" Okay, well, at least a few of you. The problem is that, like commenters on the internet, the loud fringe makes most of the noise, but often actually represents a very small percentage of the total population. For the rest of the car buying public, the realities of choosing a new car go well beyond the ability to "refuel" from a plug in the garage. This is the reality that Toyota, General

We all know that there is a hardcore group of you out there chanting the mantra of "No plug, no sale!" Okay, well, at least a few of you. The problem is that, like commenters on the internet, the loud fringe makes most of the noise, but actually represents a very small percentage of the total population. For the rest of the car buying public, the realities of choosing a new car go well beyond the ability to "refuel" from a plug in the garage. This is the reality that Toyota, GM, Nissan, Mitsubis

According to Toyota, its plug-in Prius hybrids are averaging 65 miles per gallon in real world testing. This is an improvement of 15 mpg over the recently-unveiled 2010 Prius. The secret to the big fuel mileage increase is a battery with the capacity to store much more energy than the unit in the standard Prius. This means a lithium ion technology and a much greater expense. So far, Toyota has not committed to a date when you'll be able to actually purchase a PHEV Prius for yourself, but it does

Photo by wili_hybrid. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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