"The times they are a-changing. We've waited a long time for technology like this and I think this is going to speak to the needs of a lot of people."
That's Steve Kobb, the president of the Houston Electric Auto Association. He's checking out the 2013 Fusion, which Ford says is the first sedan to offer gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions. The car is a far cry from Kobb's first electric vehicle, a pickup truck he modified himself several years ago.
"At that point the major American manufacturers didn't have product available, and so if you wanted to drive electric you had to do it yourself."
Kobb was one of the electric car enthusiasts who got a sneak preview of the new Fusion before the doors opened to the public at the Houston Auto Show. He says American car buyers are starting to warm up to electric cars, especially those who want to be insulated from high fuel prices. Also checking out the new Fusion was association member Bill Starr. He says wherever he goes people want to talk about his electric vehicle. Starr expects to see more of them on the road over the next few years.
"I'm very hopeful that technologies that are not mainstream today, zinc air, for instance, there are other battery chemistries that can bring the price down cheaper than what we have today. And so I'm very hopeful that in a three-year time frame we'll see something like that."
Ford General Sales Manager John Felice says what makes the new Fusion hybrid appealing is it looks like a conventional sedan and it can also get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. He says Ford wants to develop other hybrids, but at the same time, people need more places where they can charge those vehicles.
"If you're going to have an electric vehicle, having infrastructure that's convenient to consumers is really important. So we're partnering with governments, along with local municipalities, to build the infrastructure together."
Felice says the hybrid Fusion will be available in select markets around the country, including Houston. The Auto Show runs through Sunday at Reliant Park.