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Detroit Auto Show Displays New Direction For Industry

High-mileage vehicles stole scenes throughout the North American International Auto Show in Detroit during the media preview this week at Cobo Center. This could prove to be good news for Northville and Brighton, which are both slated to install public charging stations for electric vehicles by the end of the year.

With economists forecasting considerable rises in gasoline prices, high-mileage vehicles such as electric hybrid cars may be compelling to many buyers.

The auto show is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 22 and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 23.

Michigan automakers took top honors at the show, with Ford winning Truck of the Year honors for its Explorer and Chevrolet winning the Car of the Year trophy for the Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid.
The Volt

“Part of the comforts and freedom of driving are predictability, so the (Volt’s) extended-range feature is a good transition into the electric future,” said Robert D. Peterson, Chevrolet Volt communications manager.

The Volt has a total range of 375 miles on a full charge and full tank of gasoline. Its fuel economy is more complex to measure than that of a conventional automobile because the Volt has an electric motor and a gasoline engine.

The Volt gets 93 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) while running on electric alone and 37 mpg while using gasoline alone, giving it a combined fuel economy comparable to 60 mpg. The Volt tops the Toyota Prius as the most fuel-efficient car available in the United States.

General Motors Corp. regards the Volt as an ideal transition between a traditional automobile and fully electric zero-emission vehicle.

“Let’s say you want to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving weekend, and there is nowhere to plug in,” Peterson said. “Well, the car can also drive on conventional gasoline.”
Ford C-Max and More

GM isn’t the only company cultivating electric cars. Fuel economy is a prevalent theme throughout this year’s massive, multistory NAIAS exposition at Cobo Hall.

Like the Volt, Ford’s C-Max Energi is an electric plug-in hybrid. It’s expected to have a range of 500 miles. The C-Max is based on a gasoline-powered multipurpose vehicle previously available only in Europe. Ford intends to take the C-Max line even further with hybrid and conventional gasoline versions. The C-Max will be available in 2012, the Energi and Hybrid versions in 2013.
Toyota unveils compact hybrid

Toyota, which pioneered gasoline/electric hybrid technology with its popular Prius brand will expand that line with an electric plug-in hybrid. The Prius V is an extended version of the traditional hatchback with 60 percent more cargo space and room for five passengers.

Toyota also will offer a smaller version, the Prius C, citing it as the first compact hybrid. The Japanese automaker says it will be the most fuel-efficient and affordable hybrid on the market.

The RAV4 electric is the byproduct of a collaboration between Toyota and California-based Tesla Motors, better known for electric “supercars.” The partnership is intended to keep the costs of producing electric vehicles down for Toyota as the automaker invests $60 million in Tesla.
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