Google pledges $10 million for plug-in hybrid research

Google has gone all googly-eyed over plug-in hybrid vehicles, pledging more than $10 million in funding for the nascent technology. At a sunny photo op at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters yesterday, company officials showed off a handful of Toyota Prius and Ford Escape cars that had been modified to plug in. With big talk including the idea of hybrids feeding stored energy back to the power grid (yes, it makes our heads spin a little too), the company’s philanthropic arm,, made a qualified splash. “Google is not going to get into the business of building and selling hybrid electrics,” said’s Dan Reicher, a former assistant energy secretary under President Clinton. “Our focus is on accelerating their developing through research, testing, and investment.” Of course, some stingy types point out that $10 million ain’t exactly earth-shattering. But a spokesperson for GM, which has taken the lead on plug-ins, said he applauded the announcement: “Every little bit helps.”