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SUV, Van, Truck Owners May Soon Plug In To Electric Vehicle Revolution

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- The plug-in car world is growing bigger -- and not just in popularity.

Supersize plug-in hybrids, including 4-wheel-drive SUVs and pickup trucks, are starting to gain traction in this increasingly competitive market.

"There's starting to be a variety of cars to choose from, everything from sedans to crossovers. We're even starting to see pickups and vans coming out in the next 18 to 24 months," said Dan Bowermaster with the Electric Power Research Institute.

This full-size Ford pickup still has its Triton V-8 badge but, under the hood, the V-8 has been replaced by a 4-cylinder engine which only takes over when the batteries need to be recharged. It's a hybrid mostly sold now to utility companies. But that's likely to change soon.

"We're working with manufacturers like Ford to someday be an option at your local dealership," Kyle Macki, with Alt E Technologies, told us.

FedEx is experimenting with plug-in delivery vans in six cities nationwide and may expand to more.

Madan Chawla, with Nuworld Research and Development, is interested in a fleet of plug-in passenger vans. He showed KPIX a model that can even generate electricity and transmit it to other devices.

"This is the same as the dryer outlet in your home. You could actually run your home off of this vehicle," Chawla said.

Chawla might export this vehicle to India. "India loses power every four to six hours and people do not have power at their houses. This could be ideal," Chawla says.

Another breakthrough is Mitsubishi's plug-in 4x4 with two electric motors -- one for each axle.

At present, electric cars still tend to be small and light but it may be just a matter of time before there are as many choices for electric vehicles as there are for gas-powered cars.

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