Green Update–>Hybrids and Electrics Galore at the Detroit Show

January 12th, 2010

Toyota FT-CH hybridThere are a slew of them, so we will give you the highlights. In fact, the industry seems to be giving an enormous push to green cars, and those who had formerly pushed back (like Bob Lutz) may now be getting on board. We’ll tell you why in a piece tomorrow. For today, here’s a look at some of the more interesting new vehicles.

Toyota seems planning to make the Prius, not the Camry, “the No. 1 nameplate in the U.S.” (according to Motor Sales President Jim Lentz) by rolling out a family of Prius cars based on hybrid technology. They want to capitalize on their dominance in sales (over half the 530,000 hybrids sold last year were Priuses). So in Detroit they showed the FT-CH (above), designed in France and smaller, lighter, and shorter than the midsize Prius.

Honda CR-ZCompetitor Nissan showed the Leaf, an EV we have reported on extensively, and Honda presented the much-anticipated hybrid CR-Z, which proved to be a let-down to some. Compared to the Insight, on which it is based, it isn’t all that much faster, lighter, or more powerful. So to promote it as a 122-hp sports car may be wishful thinking. But let’s wait until it’s on the street and reviews are in.

Subaru Hybrid TourerSubaru showed its Hybrid Tourer, which had been seen before at Tokyo. The car shows Subaru finally getting serious about styling. And it has two electric motors, front and rear, plus a 2-liter turbocharged boxer engine and CVT transmission. Word is that the company may give us a hybrid car with this technology in 2012—but not necessarily the high-styled Tourer.

Fiat 500 ElectricThe all-electrics were out in force, with Fiat’s BEV (battery electric vehicle, right), only a concept for now, but a promising one that gave at least some forward motion to the moribund Chrysler cars nearby. The Abarth SS was also on display, which had Autoblog drooling.

The Germans came, but with electrics that had been mostly seen before, like the BMW Concept ActiveE and a slightly different Audi e-tron from the one shown in L.A. VW’s New Compact Coupe was new, and the word was that this hybrid would achieve 40-45 mpg, do 0-60 in 8.1 seconds, and top out at 136 mph “if necessary.” When, where, and how we might see the NCC on the road were not disclosed.

2012 Ford FocusWe told you yesterday how Ford cleaned up at the North American COTY Awards (the Fusion Hybrid and the Transit Connect). The company also announced at Detroit a $450 million additional investment to its Wayne plant for electric and hybrid production. There they will make the Focus Electric in 2011. The new Focus (right) has garnered worldwide attention since it will now be a “properly global” car with mostly interchangeable parts, thus cheaper to produce and easier to service. Ford is indeed on a roll.

Cadillac XTS PlatinumThere’s much more, which you can check out here—including Cadillac’s showing of its XTS Platinum concept hybrid sedan, which looks sharp, svelte, yet stately. Never thought I’d say that about a Caddy.

If the Detroit show is any guide, the industry is looking to go electric and hybrid in a big way. What do you think? We’ll tell you what we think tomorrow.

—jgoods

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  1. Travis
    | #1

    The industry is going the wrong way with EVs. Why create a demand for batteries when oil is plentiful? What we need are gas-powered cars that weigh less and get better MPG. Like the Chevy Cruze. 40 mpg on the highway. Who needs a hybrid?

  2. panayoti
    | #2

    Right on Travis!!! Are you listening Mr. Greenjeans???

  3. | #3

    Chev/Holden Cruz turbo diesel gets better fuel mileage and performs better than gas version. Hybrid is stupid

  4. | #4

    I definitely agree that more-efficient vehicles are the way to go, but using hybrid engines is one proven way to make cars more efficient. It’s not the only way, but it works. Clean diesels are more efficient, too, and I look forward to seeing more of those on American roads.

    @Travis, oil is plentiful, but please remember where it’s plentiful and what’s going on there right now.

  5. Matt
    | #5

    if EVs can be perfected, then what is the problem with them. i see them as a vehicle with some flaws. if these flaws can be worked out, and the range is increased to 500+ miles, thats a very sufficient enough car to give the government reason to place battery swap stations throughout the country

  6. zerrath
    | #6

    Elon Musk has been the only one to get it right, so far.

  1. | #1
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