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Dark shadows loom over PHEVs as EVs capture all the rays

Hyundai Blue-Will Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Aside from the Chevy Volt and the upcoming Toyota Prius PHEV, few plug-in hybrids (PHEV) make headlines. There could be a few reasons for this, but the likely culprit is the momentum being gained by electric vehicles. The EV has stolen the limelight from the PHEV and the reason isn't entirely clear.

Some maintain the PHEV setup is hampered by its dependence on gasoline, while others cite the overly complex powertrain that may be destined for failure from the get-go. Whatever the reasons, PHEVs don't get their fair share of coverage, so that's why it's somewhat surprising to learn that at least 20 automakers are developing plug-in hybrids for release in the near future.

CalCars, a non-profit organization promoting efficient vehicles, has created a chart detailing all the current plug-in hybrid projects underway. While some of the vehicles are certainly obscure, when viewed as a comprehensive list, it really becomes evident that plug-in hybrids are quite a big deal. With so many automakers involved, they must be on to something, right? Follow the jump to view the list of all PHEVs currently in development.

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[Source: Green Car Advisor]
Automaker Description and summary of official statements Status of production
AFS Trinity Prototype of lithium battery + supercapacitor combination for licensing by carmakers With Ricardo, two prototype conversions of Saturn Vue hybrid to XH-150 PHEV-40s
Aptera Futuristic lightweight $30,000 3-wheel vehicles in development Taking deposits in CA on series-PHEV 2010 version to follow electric version in 2009.
Audi Volkswagen-owned company exploring PHEVs Metroproject Quattro Sub-compact PHEV Concept Car shown October 2007; PHEV of A1 Sportback under consideration
Bright Automotive For-profit spin off from Rocky Mountain Institute designing lightweight PHEVs, successor to RMI's 1990s "Hypercar" concept. Partnering with Alcoa, Duke Energy,, Johnson Controls Indiana startup plans mass production in 2012.
BYD BYD Automobile Company, Shenzhen, China (partially owned by Warren Buffet's Mid-America Holdings), partnering with Volkswagen. Plan F3DM $22,000 PHEV with 60-mile range for sale, now selling in China, in the US and Europe around 2011
Chrysler ENVI division developing Town & Country minivan, 200C EV concept and Jeep Patriot and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited SUVs, EREVs (series hybrids) with 40-mile range One PHEV planned for sale in US by end of 2010, others by 2013.
Daimler/Mercedes Took over Daimler/Chrysler Sprinter PHEV program. Showed BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS series PHEV concept in December '08. Several dozen prototypes on 15-passenger van since 2004; now in second generation development; no production plans.
Fisker $80,000 Karma series luxury 50-mile range series PHEV, S Sunset convertible version. Partnering with Quantum Technologies. 1,300 pre-orders for small production runs in late 2009 and 7,500 in 2010. Established 26-dealer network.
Ford Escape PHEV-40 around 2012. Small long-term evaluation program, including modeling of vehicle-to-grid building benefits and economics, begun with Southern California Edison, joined by EPRI, other utilities, US DOE. Batteries not ready. Has shown some concept fuel-cell PHEVs. First Escape PHEV delivered to SCE Nov 2007; 20 in 2008-2009. (Several after-market companies have done PHEV conversions of the Ford Escape hybrid and one has done a retrofit of the F-150 pickup -- see Where PHEVs Are and ICE-Conversions.) Shifted earlier focus to all-electric Focus in 2011 with Magna.
General Motors Chevy Volt series PHEV, which it calls "extended range electric vehicle" (EREV), part of "E-Flex" multi-fuel platform. Plans Cadillac Converj, Opel Ampera, other versions. Planned Saturn Vue PHEV-10 may become GM or Buick. Plans "large demonstration fleet" late 2009. Committed to sales of 10,000 or more vehicles in late 2010, with increasing production in 2011. See Chevy Volt for latest. Aims to get PHEV SUV on road in 2011; no production goal.
Honda Sees PHEVs as having "unnecessary fuel engine and fuel tank;" promises all-electrics "assuming we can come up with a really high-performing battery that we are working on currently." Doubts PHEVs have environmental benefits. No known plug-ins being planned or on the road. Continues promotion and development of hydrogen as long-term strategy.
Hyundai Aims to be leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels Plans PHEV based on Blue-Will 38-mile range concept vehicle for sale in U.S. in 2012 Hybrid Sonata model year 2011, possible PHEV version in 2013.
Jaguar Tata-owned company reported to be developing series PHEVs. Based on SJ sedan and perhaps the SE roadster, expected 2011.
Mazda Ford Partner was reported to be developing Series PHEV based on Mazda 5 MPV platform. No announced plans. Company says it's focusing on gasoline and hydrogen.
Mitsubishi Introduces PX-MIeV four-wheel drive vehicle at Tokyo Auto Show, October 2009 Concept vehicle, no announced production plans
Nissan Includes PHEVs in its long-term development program. Focusing on all-electric, Nissan-Renault partnership with Better Place for EVs.
Persu Mobility (formerly VentureOne) 3-wheel Persu Hybrid PHEV-20 in development. Expected deposits in 2009 and first sales in CA in 2010.
Saab GM-owned company exploring PHEVs Joint Venture with Volvo and others to research PHEVs
Suzuki Introduces Swift subcompact crossover series PHEV at Tokyo Auto Show, October 2009 Concept vehicle, no announced production plans
Toyota 500 PHEV 2010-model Priuses with lithium batteries to be leased for fleet tests in 2009 (150 in U.S.). Commits to sell PHEVs in 2012. Agrees on environmental and economic benefits, though some presentations backtrack on that; says batteries need further development before commitment to mass-production. Says demand and whether people will plug in remain to be proven. Mass-produced 2010 "third-generation" Prius, originally planned for 2009, still uses NiMH batteries. (Several aftermarket companies and organizations have converted hundreds of Priuses -- see Where PHEVs Are.)
Visionary Vehicles Team w/Malcolm Bricklin (who brought the Subaru and the Yugo to America) aims for luxury PHEV. Raising money to bring a PHEV to market.
Volkswagen CEO says "Future belongs to electric cars," has gained German government support for development. Expects production around 2014. Space Up! Blue Concept PHEV Van with diesel or hydrogen fuel cells and rooftop photovoltaic. Plans for put 20 "Twin Drive" PHEV-30 prototypes on Golf platform in 2010. Partnership with BYD could accelerate PHEV plans.
Volvo Ford-owned company has developed "ReCharge" concept vehicles with wheel motors. V70 parallel diesel hybrid prototypes Working with Vattenfall utility for demonstration project using Ener1 batteries; aims for 2012 commercial launch.

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