I'm doing some guesswork here, so dont quote me on it. I think the models either have a small electric ac system, or the main system is electric instead of mechanically driven, and can operate on some low energy mode.
2009 would certainly be more impressive. Now if only the price tag was closer to $30k... Wonder how much the price tag would drop if they could ramp up production to some real numbers instead of the whole 15k cars a year.
There is no telling where the current trend is going, except that its going. Both hybrid and e85 technologies are a gamble, hydrogen even more so. Seems to me the idea is to jump start the technologies with subsidies and clever marketing so that manufacturing problems can be solved, and hope that someone comes up with the breakthrus necessary to make them competetive. Hybrids need better batteries (or capacitors), and if those can be developed, maybe we can do away with the gasoline engine all together. In the meantime we can get some knowledge about how to make semi electric cars in mass, and what happens to them when they crash.
For E85 to be really usefull, it needs to be run exclusivly instead of the flex fuel method. In exclusive mode, the compression ratio can be jacked way up, delievering descent power out of the engine. But that requires an infustructure to fuel the cars, so flex fuel provides incentive to build an infastructure.
Some guy (zurbin i think) had the idea that US should pass a mandate, requiring every car sold in the states be flex fuel compatable. The price increase to the car will be very modest (he says $100 a vehicle, but lets say $1000) and US being the worlds biggest car market will quickly put a ton of flex fuel vehicles out there. With that big of a market infastructure would form quickly, and even if flex fuel mode, it would isolate the consumer from price spikes (What? A hurricane in the blah blah and gas is expensive? Guess I'm filling up with e85 this week), not to mention allow manufacturers to go to all e85 vehicles.
Either way, I like the idea of gambling on multiple technologies, instead of putting all our eggs in one basket