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USA: More plug-in hybrid makers are pushing ‘the button’

As automakers introduce plug-in hybrids, each is trying to outdo the others.

Rivals battle over combined fuel economy, electric range, acceleration and recharging time.

Now it’s “the button.”

Specifically, on some upcoming plug-in hybrids, the driver will be able to keep the vehicle in electric mode or prevent it from using battery power.

“The button” is standard on the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Ford C-Max Energi, as well as plug-in hybrid versions of the redesigned Ford Fusion and Honda Accord. Ampera sales begin later this month, while the Ford and Honda models head to dealer lots late this year. A Volvo V60 powered by a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid goes on sale this year in Europe with “the button.”

Mark Reuss, General Motors’ North American president, wants to offer the feature on the Chevrolet Volt.

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