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Summary:

Detroit’s top executives have other obligations this week, but in Los Angeles, the auto show must go on. In addition to electric-vehicle infrastructure initiatives, hybrid and all-electric vehicles figure large among more than 30 North American and world premieres at this year’s event, which opens to […]

Detroit’s top executives have other obligations this week, but in Los Angeles, the auto show must go on. In addition to electric-vehicle infrastructure initiatives, hybrid and all-electric vehicles figure large among more than 30 North American and world premieres at this year’s event, which opens to the public tomorrow. These five models stand out from the herd in terms of affordability, design — and likely time to market.

Mini E: Early next year, BMW plan to lease 500 prototypes of these all-electric coupes for year-long test drives in New York, New Jersey and California. A timeline has yet to be established for full-scale production, but relative to other EV developers, BMW is moving fast. A heavy lithium-ion battery pack takes only three hours to charge with a special “wallbox unit,” and can power the car for up to 150 miles, the company reports. Downside: The batteries eliminate backseat space found in the Cooper S model, the basis for the Mini E.

Renault Nissan: As we reported earlier today, Nissan hopes to take EVs to the mass market by way of infrastructure development partnerships. A battery leasing program planned for the as-yet-unnamed vehicle in Nissan’s pipeline could make it competitive with conventional gas-powered cars — especially if fuel prices resume their pre-recession climb.

2010 Ford Fusion: The next-gen Ford Fusion, a sedan with technology similar to that of the Escape Hybrid, is one of six new models being showcased by the cash-strapped automaker at this year’s show. Some critics have questioned whether Ford can afford so much product development, but at an estimated 39 mpg, the 2010 Fusion could give the company a vehicle that budget-conscious drivers actually want to buy.

Honda Insight: Though the new Insight remains in concept phase, Honda hopes to have the relaunch of its once-expensive two-door include a price “significantly below” that of hybrids now on the market. Planned features include real-time and cumulative feedback on driving technique and fuel economy. More technical details can be found in our earlier post.

Chevy Silverado Hybrid: If the Prius still brings to mind wimpy environmentalists, GM’s new pickup trucks could add some beef to popular notions of hybrid owners, starting with the 2009 Chevy Silverado. The engine doesn’t rumble, of course, but the company claims this hybrid full-size truck can haul up to 6,100 pounds. Just how long it can manage that weight before the old gasoline kicks in remains to be seen.

  1. Now if one of them comes up with some car that the guy flipping burgers at MaDonalds can afford then we might have something!!!!!!

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  2. [...] Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere — in your phone, laptop, and by this time next year, maybe your car. The technology is slated for GM’s Chevy Volt, Toyota’s plug-in Prius, and electric versions of the Daimler Smart and BMW Mini. [...]

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  3. [...] Knockhill Racing Circuit, where they were scheduled to drive an electric Mini E — a model BMW plans to lease in prototype to 500 U.S. drivers early next year (pictured). By 2011, the UK Department for Transport said it [...]

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  4. [...] Who Wants Afghanistan’s Lithium: China’s Electric Vehicle Players By Katie Fehrenbacher Jun. 14, 2010, 11:29am PDT No Comments        0 Even though we’ve tried to help kill the phrase “the Saudi Arabia of [insert industry here],” we’re going to bring it back one last time. According to an article in the New York Times this weekend, Afghanistan could be the new “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” after analysis from the Pentagon has emerged that suggests that Afghanistan could have lithium deposits as big as those of Bolivia, which currently has the world’s largest. This finding could shape the future of the electric vehicle market given lithium is one of the fundamental resources used in the batteries of the next-generation of electric vehicles, including GM’s Chevy Volt, Toyota’s plug-in Prius, and electric versions of the Daimler Smart and BMW Mini. [...]

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