After the Senate last month approved a sharp increase in fuel economy standards, Senator Barack Obama’s co-sponsored a package calling for tax credits for consumers who purchase plug-in vehicles and the companies that make them.

In response Ford Motor Company and power utility Southern California Edison are ready to announce an unusual alliance aimed at clearing the way for a new generation of rechargeable electric cars. This joint initiative between the two companies will be the first-of-its-kind in the area of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Environmentalists laud the alliance as a way of reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, environmentalists are hopeful that eventually these hybrid vehicles will be able to run strictly on electricity for short distances and be made in such a way that they can then recharge using a standard electrical outlet.

Another possibly positive outcome of the development of these vehicles would be that they could potentially transfer stored, unneeded energy back to the electric grid, opening a potential back-up source for the system during peak hours.

While Ford was the first to introduce a hybrid with its Escape model in 2004 it backed off of its ambitious sales targets when it was faced with declining market shares. Criticized for this by environmentalists, Ford announced, in June, that it was developing new hybrid vehicles but that they saw deep-seated engineering problems with plug-ins.

However, with analysts predicting pending legal and regulatory changes additional Ford is determined to meet consumer expectations even as companies like Toyota and General Motors are fervently working to develop their own versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles. So, if you are willing to take a chance on a new technology that would help to free America from dependence on Middle Eastern Oil Barons then you may just find yourself a winner with one of the new vehicles scheduled to be available by 2010.

[tags]Ford, Toyota, General Motors, hybrid vehicles, Barack Obama, regulatory standards, OPEC, oil consumption, plug-in vehicles, Southern California Edison, greenhouse emissions, environmentalists[/tags]