ENVIRONMENT

World's First Plug-In Electric Car Goes On Sale Next Month - In China

As the ghost of GM's assassinated electric car haunts a fearful Detroit, another boogeyman is waiting in the wings: the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric car, being readied for its December release -- in China.

BYD, a company that first made its reputation as the world's largest maker of cell phone batteries, has announced it will release the F3DM hybrid sedan on December 15. And BYD says it plans to release a version of the car in the US and Europe in 2010 or 2011, just when GM plans to begin selling its own plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt.

As Mike has reported previously, the F3DM -- which can be charged using a standard electrical outlet -- can switch between a fully electric mode and a hybrid one that uses both electricity and gasoline. BYD says the car can travel as far as 60 miles (100 km) after one charge in full-electric mode, or longer when also using its small gas tank. The all-electric range of the Chevrolet Volt is only 40 miles.