BYD F3DM  (Source: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News)
The F3DM can run 60 miles on a fully charged battery and recharge in seven hours

Green crusaders and consumers looking for an alternative to gasoline power for their vehicles have been clamoring for a green plug-in hybrid for a long time. Several automakers have plans for plug-in hybrid vehicles to come to market in the next few years.

Chevrolet for instance has its Volt extended range electric vehicle set for entry to the market in 2010. However, a Chinese company has grabbed the distinction of being the first carmaker on the planet to offer a mass-produced plug-in hybrid.

The Chinese company is called BYD (Build Your Dreams) and is now selling the F3DM plug-in hybrid in its home country. The vehicle has a full electric range of 60 miles on a full battery. The lithium-ion batteries can be charged fully in seven hours and the battery can be charged to 50% of full capacity in only ten minutes at a special charge station.

In addition to the battery power, the car also sports a 1-liter gasoline engine that charges the batteries for extended driving. BYD founder and chairman Wang Changfu said, "The development of electric-powered vehicles is the best way for the Chinese auto industry to surpass other leading countries."

The F3DM will sell at a price of about $22,000 initially and will be first targeted at government agencies and corporations. American Warren Buffett purchased a 9.9% stake in the company in September, which could mean that the vehicle may find its way to America in the future. Buffett's purchase cost him $230 million.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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