Most current plug in hybrids on the market today have at least one downside. They are only capable of carrying four people. Mainstream midsize sedans usually have sufficient seating for five. Why do plug in hybrids lack the extra seat?

Until now, most plug in hybrids could only provide seating for four. The usual fifth seat location in the back of the vehicle was used for space to accommodate the battery cells needed to power the vehicle. But Johnson Controls Inc. has introduced a concept that is about to change that.

Johnson Controls re3 Plug-in Concept boasts the ability to carry five passengers in a traditionally sized midsize vehicle. The breakthrough, Johnson Controls designed a center console system that allows up to 96 li-ion cells to be placed between the front driver's seats and the front passenger's seats. The battery storage area extends from the front footwell to the back side of the front seats, freeing up the center rear seat by eliminating the tunnel that usually extends the length of the interior on hybrid vehicles.

Traditionally, the battery cells were placed in the trunk or below the rear seating area. This old placement raises rear seating, cuts down on cargo space, and eliminates the fifth seat position. The center console area used by Johnson Control in their re3 concept helps to lower the vehicle's center of gravity and keeps the batteries located away from impact zones that are easily damaged during a crash.

With center console batteries, more midsize plug-ins may come to market as consumers see a viable 5 seat alternative to their current midsize sedan.

Source: Wardsauto