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Detroit motor show 2009 news — Detroit 2009: Green - 2009

See our green cars at Detroit gallery

All eyes turn to Detroit and the message is sustainable transport - and not just from the troubled Big Three. Here’s the green tech taking centre stage in motor city.

Merc BlueZero concepts
Three concepts based around A- and B-Class platforms experimenting with
electric power. Each uses a different method of getting the electricity
to the engine - one is purely battery-powered (E-cell), one is fuel
cell (F-cell), and one is small hybrid (E-cell plus). The latter uses a
small Smart engine as an auxiliary generator to extend the car

Fisker Karma
Production model makes its debut a year after Fisker showed
concept Karma at last year’s Detroit show. It has a new interior with
aluminium and plastic switchgear and a screen with touch-feedback like
the new Blackberry. A GM-sourced two-litre four-pot runs alongside
22.6KW electric motor, producing around 400bhp and getting the Karma to
60mph in just under six seconds. So we hear. There’s a coupe version
too, but we’ll come to that later.

Lexus HS250h hybrid
you like the look of this? Couldn’t help but think it looked way too
much like a polished up Prius when the pulled the covers off it.
Anyway, it’s a front-wheel-drive hybrid Lexus based on the same
platform as the Toyota greenie, but with a bigger, 2.4-litre engine for
a bit more go. Total power is 187bhp but the fuel consumption is said
to be better than a petrol Smart. Interior is very gadgety and it’s
full of the usual top-end Japanese driver aids.

Honda Insight
cheapest hybrid: powertrain based on Civic hybrid, so 1.4-litre petrol
engine probably putting out around 113bhp running alongside electric
motor. Should cost around £15,000 when it goes on sale, aiming to be
world’s biggest selling hybrid. All good hen? Not quite - we were more
than a bit underwhelmed with this one on the show stand, after the
concept shots we were expecting more. Boring, really, like the Prius.
But boringly good we expect.

Everything else: To be honest, the entire Detroit show floor was littered with
promises of green technology. The Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler) all
gave uplifting speeches about a bright new fuel-efficient future.

Ford seemed to present the strongest case - in engineering terms at
least - with a convincing electric car plan promising a
battery-electric small car by 2011 and plug-in hybrid by 2012. For
Europe, though, its sounds like the popularity of diesel might get in
the way.

GM sang loud about its Volt and tried to put a green polish across the rest of its range, supported
by cheering from placard-waving employees they’d roped along for the
press conference.

Chrysler, though, seemed the most last-gasp of the three - its hopes
seemed pinned to borrowed or copied technology. Its ‘Circuit’ concept
borrowed heavily from Lotus and the slightly more promising looking
200C (a potential downsized 300C replacement) still felt a bit like a
prop-up exercise. Looked good, though.

Get the bigger US auto industry picture on The Foreman blog…

Read about the hot fast cars at Detroit

Read about the real world cars at Detroit

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