According to J.D. Power & Associates, hybrids, led by the Toyota Prius, currently amounted to less than half a percent of the total number of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2004. However, analysts predict an increase from over three percent to fifteen percent by 2015.
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]

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