Who Will Kill the Plug-In Hybrid?

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Hopefully no one.

As we move toward $3/gallon, at the Detroit Auto Show yesterday General Motors unveiled the Chevrolet Volt, a commuter concept car with the curves of Corvette and the credo of a Prius. GM boasts that the Volt’s hybrid-electric battery will be able to plug into the electrical grid. When charged, the car can run independent of its fuel engine, only needing to draw on petrol if traveling 40 miles or more.

Not bad, but efficiency enthusiasts may be skeptical. Many are still smarting over GM’s forced-recall and demolition of its first fleet of electric cars. The ill-fated life of that model, the EV-1—including the manner in which the State of California’s Air Resource Board caved to automakers instead of standing by its zero-emissions mandate—is well documented in Who Killed the Electric Car?.

The Volt “is not a public relations ploy,” GM’s vice-president told the New York Times. “We are dead serious about taking this technology into high-volume production.”

But GM is vague about the car’s future, including a not-so speedy release date. GM says the lithium battery it envisions still needs to be invented. Godspeed if GM is to get out the Volt in time to compete with Toyota, which has already announced that it’s readying a hybrid of its own. In any event, you need not wait for a concept car to improve your gas mileage. Check out our latest issue for some fuel-saving tips from Wayne Gerdes, the World’s Most Efficient Driver.

—Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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