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Are you going to plug your next car into a wall?

General Motors vehicles go through assembly after GM celebrated the official launch of the Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric vehicle at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly November 30, 2010, in Detroit, Mich. The Volt extended-range electric vehicle, for which 1,000 jobs will be created by General Motors over the next two years, started production earlier this month.

The Volt is a plug-in hybrid car and it can go about 40 miles on a charged battery before switching to gas. GM has big plans for the plug-in concept: Akerson said the company plans to make additional plug-ins very soon: a plug-in Cadillac and a plug-in minivan. In fact, Akerson said he'd like to see plug-ins of all GM cars down the road.

His enthusiasm is not unwarranted, Chrissie Thompson of the Detroit Free Press tells us, since there's currently a backlog of orders for Volts. Thompson joins us from the floor of the Detroit Auto Show to fill us in on GM's strategy.

She says the cars will be more expensive than your average car upfront and doesn't expect them to drop in price any time soon. The batteries are still so expensive for GM to make that they end up losing money on each sale, even though they see it as a good investment for the future.

Tom Turrentine, director of the Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center at University of California, Davis, says this technology is here to stay and that we can expect more advances and improvements using the idea of rechargeable batteries for cars. Just the idea of your car running on the same grid as your house, your computer, and your phone, introduces a lot of opportunities for innovation.

Also in this show, we hear about a new exhibit at the Computer History Museum. It features 1969's Honeywell Kitchen Computer, which was as big as a table, took two weeks to learn to program, cost $10,000, and all it did was hold recipes. They never sold any.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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