The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit marks the beginning of the global auto show season, and often serves as a positioning venue where automakers introduce concepts as well as production models of new cars.
Crossover vehicles were a common thread throughout the show. However, hybrids were more in evidence, although not in the form of a new production car. Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant diesel announcements began to pile up, and several automakers introduced more gasoline direct injection versions. Herewith, a quick recap of the “greener” announcements from the major automakers.
General Motors set a high bar for the show with its opening announcement of the Volt plug-in series hybrid concept and the E-Flex architecture. (Earlier post.) The Volt offers an all-electric range of 40 miles before requiring a recharge. Drive less than that, and your fuel consumption is zero. At maximum range (640 miles), the fuel consumption of the genset is approximately 50 mpg.
GM also introduced the 2008 Malibu, and confirmed that the hybrid version of the Malibu will arrive later this year with the start of production. (Earlier post.) The automaker also highlighted the already introduced Saturn VUE (SUV) and Aura (sedan) Green Line hybrids. All three of those vehicles use the same GM Hybrid System, a Belt Alternator Starter system with a Cobasys NiMH battery pack. The Aura Green Line sedan will deliver at least a 25% fuel economy improvement over the non-hybrid Aura XE for a premium of less than $2,500, according to GM. (Earlier post.) GM did not announce specs for the Malibu hybrid.
Also on display on the GM stand was the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept, making its US debut. The vehicle combines fossil fuel-free bio-ethanol fuel (E100) capability with electric-only propulsion by utilizing the advanced 2-mode hybrid system that General Motors is co-developing with DaimlerChrysler and BMW Group. (Earlier post.) GM also had its other upcoming two-mode hybrid SUV models on display.
Ford also unveiled a plug-in series hybrid concept: the Ford Airstream. The Ford Airstream Concept is powered by a new hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain Ford calls the HySeries Drive. The Ford Airstream Concept can travel 25 miles in battery mode—depleting the battery’s state of charge to about 40%—before the fuel cell begins operating to recharge the vehicle’s 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. (Earlier post.)
Ford also introduced a Mustang-based E85 concept muscle car—the Ford Interceptor. The Ford Interceptor uses a Ford Racing 5.0-liter V-8 “Cammer” engine running on E85 (85% ethanol blend). (Earlier post.)
Mazda announced it will begin selling its hybrid version of the Tribute SUV in the second quarter of the year. The Tribute is based on the Ford Escape. (Earlier post.)
Toyota leaned toward power and performance at this show, introducing a crew-cab version of the Tundra full-size pickup with the promise of an E85 version of the Tundra to come, the Lexus IS-F high-performance luxury sedan and the Lexus LF-A high performance sports-car concept. On the hybrid side, Toyota showed its FT-HS hybrid sports car concept. (Earlier post.)
DaimlerChrysler. MercedesBenz emphasized its Vision GL 420 BLUETEC&mdasha Tier 2 Bin 5 full-size diesel SUV targeted for introduction in the US in 2008. The V8 diesel engine delivers 216 kW (290 hp) and generates 700 Nm (515 lb-ft) of torque, with an expected fuel consumption of 9.8 liters per 100 km (24 mpg).
Detroit was also the venue for the US premiere of the new smart for two (earlier post), also to be available in the US in 2008.
The Chrysler Group introduced a Jeep Trailhawk BLUETEC concept vehicle, and announced it is offering its new mid-size Avenger sedan with a flex-fuel engine option.(Earlier post.)
Honda also leaned into the high-performance sports car mode with its introduction of the V-10 Acura “Advanced Sports Car Concept. The company had on display its FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle, the basis for a production model still scheduled for introduction in 2008, and also unveiled the design of the next-generation Accord.
Nissan unveiled an advanced design study, the Nissan Bevel Concept. A Bevel would feature a small, efficient 2.5-liter V6 combined with a hybrid drive unit. (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen/Audi each had on display a Tier 2 Bin 5 BLUETEC diesel. Audi confirmed it will introduce its Q7 3.0-liter TDI SUV in the US in 2008 as well. The Q7 3.0 TDI will be Audi’s first model to showcase Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant BLUETEC technology. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen had on display its concept BLUETEC Tiguan introduced earlier at the Los Angeles Auto Show. (Earlier post.)
Mitsubishi confirmed plans to develop a next-generation common rail turbo-diesel engine to be applied in a new Lancer in 2010. The Mitsubishi turbo-diesel announced at the NAIAS for the US will be based on the 2.0-liter, Euro-5 compliant engine that MMC is developing together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the European market. The new engine will incorporate a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and NOx trap catalyst system and will meet Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions requirements, according to Mitsubishi. (Earlier post.)
Hyundai concentrated primarily on the introduction of its new Veracruz crossover, but also introduced the Helion—a three-door sport crossover powered by a 3.0-liter diesel engine.