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Detroit Auto Show: 5 Automakers to Watch

The North American International Auto Show will go light on the glitz and gas guzzlers this year, as exhibitors (two of them fresh from a bailout) seek to demonstrate efficiency, innovation and frugality. Even SUVs — most notably the 30-mpg-highway 2010 Chevy Equinox — are sporting improved fuel economy. With at least seven manufacturers, including Nissan Motor Co. (s nsany) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., opting out of corporate representation at the Detroit event, smaller startups and new green concepts from established automakers just might steal the show. We’ll be watching to see how these five electric and hybrid vehicle exhibitors perform in the spotlight:

BYD Auto: Chinese battery company BYD made its North American debut at the 2008 Detroit show with its H6 DM hybrid. Over the last year, BYD has entered the green auto race in earnest, thanks in part to a $230 million investment from Warren Buffett, the launch of a plug-in hybrid (the F3DM) earlier this month, and plans to roll out an all-electric car, the e6 (pictured below) in 2009.

Fisker Automotive: The Irvine, Calif.-based startup unveiled prototypes of its electric Karma at last year’s show, and plans to display the production version (revealed earlier this month and pictured below) in 2009. The company also plans to show off a hybrid concept convertible called the Karma S.

Honda: The production version of the 2009 Honda Insight Hybrid (pictured below) is slated to debut in Detroit, kicking off what the company hopes will be a year of fierce competition with the Toyota Prius. According to Edmunds, the Insight is expected to carry a $20,000 price tag, compared with $22,720 plus a $700 “destination charge” for the 2009 Prius.


Tesla Motors: The San Carlos, Calif.-based startup will have floor space in Detroit for the first time this year to display its Tesla Roadster (below). Don’t expect to see the long-awaited Model S sedan — it’s slated for an unveiling later in 2009.

Toyota Motor Corp.: Toyota is going gangbusters for green this year. It plans to debut one all-electric concept vehicle and two hybrid concepts — a sports car called the Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept, and a Lexus sedan called the HS250h that’s expected to give efficiency priority over the juiced-up engines seen in previous Lexus hybrids. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company will base the limited-range, $20,000 electric model on a subcompact that the company has in the works for a possible launch in the next few years. That’s not all. The company will also show the buzzy 2010 Prius (pictured below) and Camry Hybrid.


6 Responses to “Detroit Auto Show: 5 Automakers to Watch”

  1. There is no doubt that there are exciting times ahead for electric vehicles; with many companies innovating on the central theme of EVs. Consumers interested in EVs will be having a great choice of EVs to choose from in the near future.

  2. Uncle B

    Auto Show gone? Well, Yankee Doodle, Guess what! You’re broke! that’s why! and guess what else, Nobody gives a damn! The rest of us never had your boom-times so we won’t be suffering your bust times! We still eat beans and for special occasions, sardines, all on stale bread with lots of water, and we are not fat bellied or cholesterol soaked or anything! We no longer have to stand at the bus stops of the world and envy the Hummer-folks as they go by! We don’t see fancy-ass Cadillacs anymore, and most SUV’s have given way to their built-in planned obsolescence and reduced themselves to oil spots soaking in rust on garage floors! A few bigger GM models have given way to piston slap so bad you can’t drive them anymore, and some rusty Fords are smoking themselves to death as we speak! Meantime: my trusty little VW Rabbit Diesel gave me over 400,000 miles of good service at 45+ mpg and brought a good buck on trade! My neighbors small gas Honda did just about the same, and we both saved money in the long run! GM and Ford, Chrysler too, they no longer have to develop better cars, instead the beg for bail-outs to produce the same crap they always did and we get to pay weather we buy one or not! Commies! America, the (GRD) great republican depression is going to screw with your heads so bad! The onslaught of paradigm shifts will weed you out, the willowing stick will kill you off, the thrash will fall! Very little good seed will be saved, and planted in your ashes! The end of the American Dream as we know it is being molded by economic forces the world does not understand. The end of the “Good-Times” can be marked by the end of the extravaganza Americans fondly called the auto show. Party’s over folks! Pick up your beer-cans and go home! You will be charges for what you have done in the morning! Sleep well!

  3. I’d love to hear more about those who are opting out.

    Are they run by craven beancounters who won’t approve the cost of exhibiting?

    Have they decided the U.S. has tanked so badly that skipping a year makes more sense – than convincing themselves there’s something worth competing for, this year?