Toyota surprised us with a plug-in hybrid Prius on the floor at the 2008 Detroit auto show. The company has resisted the plug-in hybrid movement previously, citing the fact that you don't need to plug in the Prius as a virtue. But there has been quite a bit of interest in plug-in hybrids from individuals and even power companies. Plug-in proponents claim to get 100 mpg by modifying Priuses and recharging the batteries when the cars aren't being used. Toyota seems to have finally given into the plug-in pressure, starting up its own plug-in program and handing over a couple of prototype plug-in Priuses to the University of California. At the Detroit auto show, Toyota not only had a plug-in Prius on the floor, along with an informational display, but it also had two running around the city as VIP transportation. The plug-in Priuses still use Toyota's hybrid system, but have been modified with an additional nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, increasing electric range and speeds.
Ford also got into the game, showing off a plug-in Escape Hybrid in its display area. Ford is working on the plug-in technology in conjunction with Southern California Edison. The plug-in Ford Escape Hybrid uses lithium-ion batteries, giving it fuel economy of 120 mpg, according to Ford.