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Once in a while, an electric airplane makes the news. Beyond that, most of what we hear concerns plug-in electric cars and with good reason: In 2007 there were more than 250 million registered passenger vehicles on the road in the United States alone.
To naval engineers—who have been doing radical things with ship propulsion since the Egyptians first harnessed wind to sail up the Nile around 3500 B.C.—the latest innovations in automobile drivetrains are old hat. Diesel-electric hybrids? They've been standard issue on the U.S. Navy's battleships since their debut on the USS Tennessee in 1920. All-electric ships? The Duffy Electric Boat company has been building battery-powered pleasure crafts since 1970.
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