Car Trek: The Next Generation
This weekend General Motors will unveil its experimental Precept car, a diesel-electric hybrid that gets almost 80 miles to the gallon and is probably the most expensive single car ever built. Like similar experimental models from Ford and DaimlerChrysler, it was constructed under the umbrella of the industry-government Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. The Precept may never go into mass production because of their high cost, but some of the advanced fuel-economy technology could wind up in consumer cars and trucks. The U.S. government has spent $1.4 billion over the last five years to help develop experimental models. But Japanese automakers are beating Americans to the punch, even with much less government support. Honda and Toyota have already begun mass-producing hybrid cars that get between 50 and 70 miles to the gallon.