Green cars are still present at this year's North American International Auto Show, but green isn't the theme to the same extent that it was last year, when everyone seemed enthusiastic to have an electric car of some stripe or other. However, that emphasis has carried over in this year's top car picks, including the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF.
This year there aren't the big announcements about manufacturers making major capital investments like there were last year, when both Ford and GM made splashes with their plans for new factories. That was good political fodder, and several dignitaties from the state of Michigan, as well as a congressional delegation, were present at the 2010 show. This year, however, the newly elected officials are more low profile, if they are attending at all.
With a foundering economy last year, there was not as much excitement from dealers and manufacturers for the coming sales year, and everyone's technological developments made good stories in the absence of much other good news. This year, however, the "green" car seems to be just another segment for a manufacturer's "full line," to go along with the sport vehicle, the family car, the utility vehicle and the other checkboxes a manufacturer needs to have to compete. Here are some of the offerings and concepts on display this year:
Chevrolet - the Volt is, of course, Chevy's big story. But Chevy also debuted the Sonic, a new small car with expected 40 MPG rating. It will also, according to GM, be the only small car that is built in the US.
Ford - two different hybrid versions of the new C-Max will be offered, going after both the Toyota Prius and the Chevy Volt with a Prius-like version expecting to get 50 MPG and a Volt-like REEV expecting a 500 mile range.
Toyota - offering three new versions of the Prius, including a plug-in version and also showing an electric RAV4.
Honda - introducing the new Civic with three powertrains. Natural gas version with very low emissions to be available in all 50 states, as well as conventional and hybrid versions.
Volvo - sticking with their perennial theme of safety, Volvo test-crashed a C30 and have it on display to show how the battery will withstand a high speed crash.
Audi - winner of last year's Green Car of the Year, this year the focus was on the new A6 which is almost 180 pounds lighter than its predecessor and has an average of 19% lower fuel consumption; sounds exciting, but with city/highway mileage numbers like 16/24 to 21/30, we're not impressed. The electric e-tron was given only passing mention.
Hyundai - the Veloster is a small 40 MPG car aimed at the younger buyer and has a $17-18,000 price.
Tesla - the new Model S sedan is represented with a naked exploded body, but the discussion at the announcement was about body and styling rather than efficiency and engineering.
BYD - the Chinese manufacturer is again on the main floor. They have fielded a test fleet of their F3DM cars with the City of Los Angeles. The company wants to sell not only vehicles, but an integrated system of low-cost solar power generation and environmentally friendly power storage.
Mazda - green efforts seem to be represented by a lone hydrogen concept car at the back of the booth.
Nissan - despite winning Green Car of the Year, Nissan does not have a presence at this year's Detroit show. Reportedly Nissan will return to Detroit in 2012.
written by Ethical Gifts, January 12, 2011
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