20101019 hybrid plug in 35
A power cable from a vehicle charging station is seen plugged into the side of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in San Francisco, Calif. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: News this week that Chrysler is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on a Hydraulic Hybrid Minivan. It would capture power when drivers hit the brakes. Carmakers are adjusting to new fuel economy standards. 2012 model cars will have to average 29.7 miles per gallon. This year's average is 27.6.

Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports.

Alisa Roth: Making the engines and the rest of the vehicle smaller is the fastest way to make the vehicles more efficient. But it can be hard to convince American drivers to buy smaller cars.

So carmakers are also trying to find ways to make them lighter, without having to shrink them. Dick Schultz works in the materials department at Ducker Worldwide, which is a consulting firm.

Dick Schultz: So everybody is scrambling around trying to figure out how much aluminum and magnesium and these new steels they have to incorporate in their vehicles.

Some carmakers, like Toyota and Hyundai, already meet the gas mileage standards for next year. But for the ones who haven't yet, it'll be a busy couple of months.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.