A recent editorial from Car & Driver editor-in-chief Csaba Csere makes a “fearless prediction” that plug-in hybrids will be “the hot rods of the 21st century.”
Csere acknowledges that we still need a breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology to make plug-in hybrids feasible, which is certainly true. But he adds that plug-in hybrids will “quickly proliferate” after that breakthrough happens. Csere is dead-on when he argues that plug-in hybrid development is ahead of that for fuel-cell vehicles. He says:
“A reasonable person might conclude that once plug-in hybrids become common and their batteries become inexpensive purely battery-powered vehicles will leapfrog the fuel-cell machines and leave them stillborn.”
The rest of Csere’s column is a technical, but interesting discussion of the keys to plug-in hybrid development, the horsepower from advanced batteries and electric motors, and the advantages of series hybrids (in which the electric motor and internal combustion engine are separate) over parallel hybrids (in which the electric motor and internal combustion engine are intertwined).
And — in case you’re wondering — Csere’s name is pronounced something like “Chabba Chedda.” At least according to the forums at caranddriver.com.