With demand booming, automakers and their suppliers are working feverishly on the heart of the hybrid vehicle: the batteries. Analysts predict more powerful, lighter, and smaller batteries would speed up the sale for hybrid vehicles. Thus, researchers are working on lithium-ion batteries as the successors to today's nickel-metal-hydride packs.
But there may be some unintended consequences. New technology drops the value of older, though still working, models. Witness computers where the joke is a new computer's value goes to zero the first time you start it up. Residual value for hybrids using nickel-metal-hydride packs may plummet once the new batteries are available.
However, current hybrid owners can breath a sigh of relief. Such batteries are still in the future as researchers grapple with the new technology’s durability.
[Pictured is a 2004 Daihatsu UFE2 Hybrid Concept]