Electric, Hydrogen, Hybrid Cars Star at Detroit Auto Show

DETROIT, Michigan, January 8, 2007 (ENS) - At the 2007 North American International Auto Show Sunday, General Motors' head Rick Wagoner unveiled the Chevrolet Volt concept sedan and announced that production work has begun on a new generation of electric vehicles that could eliminate gas stations for Americans who live close to their workplaces.

Built on a platform that GM calls the E-flex System, the Volt is a battery powered electric car that has a range of 40 city miles after a six-hour charge from a household electrical outlet. GM says it would be a viable, gas-free daily driver for Americans whose one-way work commute is 20 miles or less. That's 78 percent of all American workers, according to GM Vice Chairman, Product Development Bob Lutz.


GM's new Chevrolet Volt concept sedan (Photo courtesy GM)
The car also has a flex-fuel gasoline engine that extends the range to up to 640 miles. The gas engine does not drive the wheels instead, it creates electricity that powers the wheels.

The Volt's sharp-angle body style proves that "environmentally conscious cars can actually look good, as well," Lutz said.

BMW is showing the Hydrogen 7, a flex-fuel vehicle that runs on gasoline and hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen as a motor fuel is the answer to many environmental problems since there are no harmful emissions, no depleting of resources, no danger to the atmosphere, and it can be produced from a variety of renewable resources.

BMW's hydrogen vehicles run on liquid hydrogen that is produced from water using solar power. The hydrogen is dispensed from automated filling stations, and it powers modified BMW production vehicles.

Toyota will unveil a hybrid sports car, its FT-HS concept, at the North American International Auto Show, NAIAS 2007.

The FT-HS concept was a joint project of Calty, Toyota's research and design center located in Newport Beach, California, and Toyota's California-based Advanced Product Strategy Group. The design team was assigned the task of creating a mid-priced sports car that integrates ecology and emotion in a concept that addresses the question "What is a suitable sports car for the 21st Century?"


Toyota's concept hybrid sports car, the FT-HS. (Photo courtesy Toyota)
The FT-HS pairs a V6, 3.5L gasoline engine with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The concept vehicle has a sleek sports car profile, and utilizes lightweight aerodynamic materials such as carbon-fiber wheels. The front-engine, rear-drive sports car has a projected zero-to-60 miles per hour acceleration of about four seconds and a price tag in the mid-$30,000 range.

Hot sports car or cool commuter vehicle, more than half of all Americans say due to soaring gas prices they would consider buying or leasing a fuel efficient hybrid car, according to a poll taken last spring.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup telephone poll of 1,001 adults was done in March and released in April 2006.

Environmentally friendly cars at the auto show are generating attention from government figures, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, who will be attending the show as he did last year.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will make an appearance and announce her proposal to reform the Department of Transportation's National New Car Assessment Program.

Officials from the Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the EPA are meeting with manufacturers GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota while at the show.

Also attending in 2007 are the Office of Aerospace, the Washington Foreign Press, Department of State's Bureau of Public Affairs and the Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission.

In November, Michigan launched the Renewable Fuels Commission, a public-private team to help develop the state's alternative fuel industry.

"The work of the Renewable Fuels Commission is a critical part of our effort to make Michigan the nation's leader in developing and producing alternative energy," said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. "As more E-85 and flex fuel vehicles are produced, it is essential that we make biodiesel and ethanol products more widely available and encourage their use."

Toyota is planning to release a flex-fuel full size pickup next year that can run on E-85 ethanol, Jay Lentz, executive vice president, Toyota Motor Sales, said Sunday.

The 2009 model truck will be a variation on the new Toyota Tundra CrewMax, a full size pickup that debuted Sunday at the auto show.

In 2007, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association will celebrate the centennial of its successful association with the North American International Auto Show. Since its inception in 1907, the show has grown from a regional event featuring 17 exhibitors to an internationally sanctioned show with over 90 exhibitors, which brought more than $500 million into the metro Detroit region last year.

Held at Detroit's COBO Conference/Exhibition Center, press preview days at the North American International Auto Show run through Tuesday. Industry preview days will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. The Charity Preview will be held Friday evening. Public days are Saturday, January 13 through Sunday, January 21.