"It's huge" news, says Felix Kramer, an early advocate of plug-in hybrids. Kramer founded the California Cars Initiative, a group that in 2004 showed the feasibility of plug-in technology by beefing up batteries in a Toyota Prius.
GE "is a missing player who is now showing up," Kramer says.
GE's Vlatko Vlatkovic noted his company has developed a hybrid railroad locomotive, which he called a "6,000-horsepower Prius on rails."
GE also is working on a heavy-duty off-highway hybrid truck, said Vlatkovic, global technology leader of electronics and energy conversion at GE Global Research.
"A lot of these technologies are really synergistic to what the automotives need," Vlatkovic told Automotive News.
A GE spokesman said the dual-battery technology that GE and Chrysler are working on would combine several battery chemistries in a single unit. The technology aims to meet a range of driving demands, the spokesman said.
For GE, the automotive sector is "a new space that we are convinced will grow," Vlatkovic said. The company can offer expertise in batteries and drivetrain and power electronic controls, he added.
Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli is a former GE executive.