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While we are happy to admit that hybrids are not all they are cracked up to be, we have been patiently waiting for plug-in hybrids to save the day. But a top Toyota technology expert has today urged buyers to temper expectations for what plug-in hybrid vehicles can do.

The idea of a plug-in hybrid is such that it would be more practical than a traditional gasoline-electric hybrid. It can be recharged from electrical outlets and operate significantly longer on electric-only power than standard hybrids. Theoretically, plug-in hybrids can all but eliminate the need for weekly trips to the petrol station. Or can they?

Toyota’s Bill Reinert admitted today that in the real-world, plug-in hybrids could suffer and have their electric-power-only range reduced dramatically.

“When we see the (claims of) 100 mile-per-gallon (42 km-per-litre) stuff, not everybody’s going to get 100 miles per gallon,” Reinert said.

Even so, if plug-in hybrids can manage 60-80km a day on one electric charge alone, it would accommodate the majority of drivers that simply drive to and from work and reduce the fuel bill substantially.

Of course, we heard all these great numbers and ideas about hybrid cars too, and many consumers have been disappointed by the real-world fuel consumption figures of regular hybrids.

The battle is now on to see who can bring a working mass-produced plug-in hybrid to the market first. So far General Motors is planning to have the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt by 2010 while arch rival, Toyota, is expected to have it’s plug-in Prius out by around the same time.




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