HOUSTON While there is plenty of gleam at the Houston Auto Show, there is also a glimpse of the future hybrids.

When it comes to Ford s new plug-in hybrids, Keith Howard is impressed.

You can have your cake and eat it too, Howard said from behind the wheel of the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi.

The electric car is different. Think of it a sort of super hybrid, able to drive fully electric and plug in to charge.

You also have a 16-gallon gas tank and you could drive 620 miles total range, said Rob Lorio, an engineer with the Ford Motor Company.

That s nearly from Houston to El Paso.

If you want to drive it as an electric you can do that. If you want to take a trip to Dallas you can do that as well, Lorio said.

There is no gas station required because you can plug it into a home outlet for a full charge in seven hours, or get faster charging at higher power in just two and a half hours.

The hold up to electric and hybrid and electric cars is battery technology, which is getting better every year.

We are constantly trying to find the next best chemistry so we can pack more energy into a smaller space, Lorio said.

It does feel different when you take your foot off the pedal.

The car will almost stop itself going down to zero, Howard said as he stopped.

The car recycles the braking action friction to add charge to the batteries.

The future may be silent, unless you step on it.

This car, as you can see, is not slow, said Howard.

The top speed, even as a full electric, is 85 miles an hour.

They are built in America, but the new plug-in hybrids from Ford actually have a closer connection to Houston and it is inside the engine.

Our partner Toshiba moved production of our traction drive and our generator from Japan to Houston for this generation of transmission, said the Ford executive. And that means local jobs.

Keith Howard did not wait for the auto show. His vehicle is the first super-hybrid in town.

It has already logged 3,000 miles, more than half electric.


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