Hybrid | 2009 Detroit Auto Show | Electric

Cadillac Converj Concept courtesy Automobilemag.comJudging from opening day of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show (a.k.a. the North American International Auto Show - naias.com), it is obvious that automakers were well prepared with their answers to the public’s $5 a gallon gasoline questions. And with more than 6,000 journalists on hand, one can only imagine the incredible amount of press and blogging we’d have seen if gas prices were even close to $5 today.

While there were a handful of what we now call “traditional vehicles” unveiled, the real story was about most everyone’s plan to launch an all-electric vehicle (EV) as quickly as possible. Even with the much anticipated debut of hybrid cars like the next generation 2010 Toyota Prius and the reborn 2010 Honda Insight, hybrids were overshadowed by plug-in electric hybrids, and PHEVs played second fiddle to several 100% Electric concept vehicles.

Some of the concepts and electric buzz included:

1. Toyota’s plan to launch an all electric vehicle in the United States by 2012. For now, we can call it the FT-EV.

2. Ford’s plan to sell four battery-powered vehicles by 2012, including an electric commercial van.

3. Dodge announced the Circuit, a tiny all-electric roadster concept.

4. Cadillac showed off the plug-in concept Converj  (pictured above), based on the same technology as the Chevy Volt.

5. Chrysler debuted its 200C, a midsized electric concept car that could compete with the hybrid Camry.

6. Daimler AG unveiled their Concept BlueZero lineup- 3 vehicles with alternative electric drive systems.

7. Tesla lifted the curtain on their Roadster Sport, a luxury electric sportscar due out this summer.

Today really feels like Day 1 of what might be the near future of automotive transportation. But are we truly ready to suddenly change from calculating miles per gallon to bragging about our cost per mile? Maybe, but we aren’t quite there yet. With a few exceptions, it’s not even possible to purchase an all-electric vehicle in the U.S. today and that won’t change in 2009.

Even with Toyota’s plan to launch a pure electric vehicle, the company is clear that gas-electric hybrid vehicles are its long term core powertrain technology. Toyota stills plans on selling 1 million hybrids annually soon after 2010, and will launch as many as ten new hybrid models by then in various markets. This includes the hybrid Lexus HS250h, which also made its first appearance today. 

And, from this MarketWatch article…Small cars, hybrids and electrics definitely stole the show Sunday, but GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, never one to mince words, was quick to point out the fickle nature of the American consumer.
With gas prices falling back below $2.00 a gallon “you can’t give hybrids and small cars away,” he said, adding that dealers are turning away cars like the Chevy Cobalt and asking for more vehicles like the Chevy Tahoe SUV.

No doubt the next few years will  be an exciting time for hybrid and electric autos!

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