and then it dawned on me: the release of this car in hybrid form means it's now just a matter of time (less than you might think) before america's most popular, conventional, main stream car will be available as a plug-in version that can drive 30-50 city miles in electric-only mode.
EDrive begins selling its prius phev system this spring. their site says systems are being planned for other hybrid models as well. you can be certain they'll be clamouring to do a camry version asap.
it won't be cheap - but it will be very, very cool. and it's just the start.
it's another piece of evidence - in my opinion a hugely symbolic one - of the turning point i think we're at in where cars are headed. with a camry phev, "alternative" suddenly finds itself smack in the middle of "normal".
if you're really interested in electric commuting, $9k - $12k is competitive with building a good quality dedicated EV conversion that will have a similar range (30-50 miles at city speeds). it doesn't seem too crazy when you look at it that way.
but i suspect the majority will look at it the way you have. most people don't know what an EV costs, so they judge the numbers based on ???
btw, a toronto company is in the game with a $9k prius power pack. i think it's $US, but not sure.
I personally really like the PHEV concept. not only does it serve as an EV for "in-town" driving, but if you ever run out of juice it just switches on the gas motor. It's the perfect solution for just about everyone, at least until battery technology gets better...
or until they can finally manufacture that dylithium crystal engine.