While some automakers are already promising to have plug-in hybrids on the road by 2010
, the US Department of Energy is now pouring some cash into a slightly less ambitious joint effort with Ford, General Motors, and General Electric, which would see plug-ins capable of driving 40 miles on a single charge roll out by 2014. Under the new effort, General Motors will be tasked with improving lithium-Ion battery packs and charging systems, and integrating them into its own research with a test fleet by 2011, while Ford will be aiming to speed up the mass-production of plug-in hybrids, as well as improve its batteries and build prototype vehicles. Rounding things out, General Electric will be partnering with Chrysler to develop a dual-battery system, which promises to let vehicles travel 40 miles on a charge. All of that is still subject to appropriations by Congress, however, and the aforementioned companies would obviously be pouring in a good chunk of change themselves, as a mere $30 million isn't exactly quite enough to shake up the auto sector these days.