Green Update–>Kia, Fiat, Toyota, and More

We have a couple of tease photos for you today of two cars that might turn out to be very interesting. Kia is holding a press conference at the Chicago Auto Show tomorrow, at which it will likely answer questions about its Ray plug-in hybrid concept, shown here.

The Ray was styled by Kia Design Center America. Autobloggreen speculates that the powertrain will be similar to the Hyundai Blue-Will concept recently shown in Detroit. ”That car is based on the same configuration that will go into the [2011] Sonata hybrid later this year but with a bigger motor and battery that is claimed to give a 40-mile electric driving range.”

Also at Chicago will be the Fiat Elettra, here getting its cover removed. We will bet the car isn’t too much different-looking from the other Fiat 500 versions that are emerging, among them the Diesel (the clothing company, not the motor) Edition—including the headlight arrangement. Other than that, the company hasn’t said much about the car. We are assuming it will be a plug-in.

Fiat is investing some $550 million in the Chrysler Toluca plant outside Mexico City to produce new fuel-fficient engines for the 500. The company’s production target is 130,000 a year, and cars will go to the U.S. and Latin America. Said CEO Sergio Marchionne, “”I don’t think we are going to shrink American’s tastes by introducing the Fiat 500. We are only looking for a particular space in the market for this car to occupy.”

Opel Vauxhall has some really big ideas. CEO Nick Reilly announced yesterday an ambitious plan to invest some $15 billion by 2014 in new and alternative core products, including a plug-in hybrid in addition to the Ampera (right), developing pure battery cars in smaller size groups, and expanding LPG and CNG applications. The company foresees break-even by 2011, for which 8,300 jobs (20 percent of capacity) will have to go.

A new poll by Deloitte shows that 74 percent of Generation Y (age 18-30) consumers in the U.S. consider fuel efficiency and environmental factors “extremely important” when buying a new car. Australian Gen Y buyers would prefer to buy new rather than used, while 63 percent of U.S. buyers want used. Maybe the Gen Y’ers down under have got more money.

Finally, and sadly, Toyota announced that it would turn down a significant Japanese government award for energy efficiency given to the Prius. The company said it would not accept the award because of the recent recalls of the car, saying it was “not appropriate.”

Fiat and Opel are going to own the world of small cars. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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2 Comments

  1. Being something of a Fiat fangirl, I hope the 5O0 does well in the US too. I doubt it’ll have to come out in designer editions, Fiat have a good track record when it comes to small cars. it’s done well regarding safety here and also with regard to lower carbon emissions too. As new cars go, the 500’s one of the best if you ask me.

  2. Does Opel plan to sell its small cars in the U.S.?

    I hope the Fiat 500 will do well in the U.S., but I also hope it doesn’t have to become available in a bunch of designer editions to do so. I’ll settle for one company’s brand name on my car, thanks very much.

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