New cars in Austin could end trips to the gas station

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by ANDREW HORANSKY / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Automakers are busy developing new cars and trucks to help wean drivers off of gasoline.  Some of them are on display this weekend in Austin.

Engineers from Ford brought two vehicles from Detroit that they say reflect their company’s future.  They include a Ford Escape plug-in electric hybrid and an all-electric Focus prototype.

The Focus looks much like any other Focus on the road, but there is a big difference in the trunk.  Space there is limited to make room for a rechargeable battery.

“There is no engine,” pointed out Sherif Marakby, Ford engineer.  “There is no sound.”
 
Marakby would not reveal how much the new Focus could cost, but he did say that it would save consumers money in the long run.

The car can drive up to 100 miles on a single charge and at the cost of just a few dollars on a utility bill.

“Obviously different areas of the country have different prices but that’s about the national average,” Marakby said.

On Friday the new Focus attracted interested buyers on the street.

“I knew sooner or later it was going to happen,” said Will Buckner, Austin. 

“Hopefully we’re moving in that direction,” said Zita Adair, visiting from Michigan.

After fighting off bankruptcy and a tough recession, automakers may now be fighting for innovation.

Later this year, Chevrolet will release its new electric Volt.  Nissan has plans for a hatchback called the Leaf.  Ford’s electric Focus is expected in dealerships next year.

According to one industry expert, up to 10 percent of cars on the road could be electric by the year 2020.

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