DETROIT (Kyodo) The annual North American International Auto Show opened Monday in Detroit with automakers showcasing more environmentally friendly vehicles as the industry continues to rebound from its recent downturn.
While last year’s show focused on industrywide green technology, this year automakers are emphasizing their brands as environmental technology becomes more mainstream.
Among Japanese automakers displaying their expanding lines of vehicles with green and fuel-efficient technologies, Toyota Motor Corp. introduced a new “family” of Prius hybrid vehicles, including a Prius plug-in hybrid. It also unveiled a larger Prius concept that can seat five and a compact Prius concept with improved fuel efficiency.
Toyota plans to launch the Prius five-seater, the Prius v wagon with a bigger interior space, this summer in the United States and Japan. The new compact Prius c is expected to be put on the market in the first half of next year.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the automaker will further increase lineups of environmentally friendly vehicles with the aim of expanding sales. “We will continue manufacturing vehicles equipped with advanced technologies,” he said.
Honda Motor Co., known in the United States for its fuel efficiency and design, debuted its new smaller and lighter concept for the Civic.
Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are not attending this year.
Among U.S. carmakers, General Motors Co., which focused on its Chevrolet Volt electric car last time out, concentrated this year on the debut of the Chevrolet Sonic, a compact promising increased fuel efficiency.
The Sonic, which debuts on Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, was shown alongside other smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles the company hopes will help “people change the way they think of” the automaker, according to GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson.
“Today, we’re building on that momentum . . . the Volt is just a glimpse of what’s possible,” Akerson said.
Three Ford Motor Co. electrified vehicles debuted, including the company’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Ford C-MAX Energi, which promises 800 km on a single charge. Also displayed were the carmaker’s first full electric car, the Ford Focus Electric, and a hybrid, the C-MAX.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, emphasized the importance of creating more environmentally friendly vehicles for a “greener, cleaner and healthier future.”
Ford also showcased its EcoBoost engine technology and will conduct a public teardown of the F-150 EcoBoost engine during the public show. The engine was used in a series of “torture tests” to display its performance, while decreasing carbon emissions and increasing fuel efficiency.
Tesla Motors Inc., which promoted its electric Roadster by driving 4,300 km from Los Angeles to the 2010 show in Detroit without gasoline, unveiled a model of the shell of its electric Model S sedan, set for delivery in 2012. The Model S has 3,500 advance orders, according to the company.
Daimler AG revealed its luxury brand Mercedes-Benz series electric sports car, the SLS AMG E-cell, which board member Thomas Weber said will prompt the industry to feel that “the race for the best electric sports car is on.”
Organizers are optimistic about this year’s show. There were more than 700,000 visitors last year.
“2011 will be another banner year for media, industry and the public alike as they will be able to explore a packed show floor,” said 2011 auto show Chairman Barron Meade.
The show was to be open to the media through Tuesday, before opening its doors to the general public from Saturday to Jan. 23.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.