Toyota's plug-in electric car

Toyota continues its work on a new, all-electric-powered small car, Motor Matters recently reported. Toyota will speed up testing of the plug-in Prius, which will have new battery technology. This all-electric car will be "mass-produced" in the next few years, according to Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe. Tests of rechargeable Priuses, previously set for 2010, were moved up to late 2009. This schedule change apparently is in response to competition. Toyota's new timetable for the plug-in Prius is related to General Motors' planned schedule for its rechargeable Volt.

Cruze compact coming to U.S.

The Chevrolet Cruze, General Motors' mid-2010 replacement for the Cobalt compact model, is debuting this month at the Paris auto show, Auto Week reports. Chevy says the Cruze is longer and wider than its competitors, with a dual-cockpit interior layout inspired by 1960s-era Corvettes. The Cruze will launch in Europe next March and come to the United States later in the year. For the U.S. market, the model will include four-cylinder turbo and non-turbo engines.

GM plans truck hybrids

Auto Week reports that the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups will be available in hybrid versions beginning in mid-2009. The Silverado and Sierra will "retain their work credentials (rear-drive trucks boast a towing capacity of 6,100 pounds) while still improving their fuel economy, (which) makes them an attractive option for conscientious truck buyers." Chevy says the hybrid pickup, available only in crew-cab styles, will achieve an estimated 21/22 mpg city/highway rating. These trucks go on sale next summer (2009), with pricing to be announced closer to launch.