Despite roadblocks, automakers promising greener rides
The Detroit Auto Show is in full swing, and it seems that every participant is promising a new hybrid, a gas-sipping microcar, or a fully electric vehicle.
The Detroit Auto Show is in full swing, and it seems that every participant is promising a new hybrid, a gas-sipping microcar, or a fully electric vehicle.Skip to next paragraph
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On Sunday, Honda unveiled the next generation of its hybrid Insight, a five-door hatchback that is a successor to the hybrid of the same name that was discontinued in 2006. Honda plans to produce 200,000 Insights next year, with 100,000 going on sale in the United States starting on April 22 (which just happens to be Earth Day).
Not to be outdone, Toyota has revealed its 2010 Prius. This sleeker, more fuel-efficient version boasts 50 miles per gallon – a 4 m.p.g. improvement over the current version – and a moon roof with solar panels that power the ventilation system.
Toyota is also rolling out a Lexus version of the Prius, which for some insane reason is not being called the Plexus. Instead, they're calling it the HS250h, which stands for Hybrid Sedan 250 hybrid. New York Times auto journalist Michelle Maynard pressed Lexus's general manager about the redundancy, and he seemed to agree that it was a pretty dumb name.
The Japanese automaker has also introduced a little zero-emissions commuter car. The Toyota FT EV, an all-electric version of its iQ, is expected to have a range of 50 miles.
American cars, too
US automakers also seem to be finally getting serious about cleaner cars, having promised to do so after seeking billions of taxpayer dollars from Congress in December. Chrysler unveiled two new "production intent" members of its electric ENVI line – a plug-in hybrid version of its Jeep Patriot, and a sleek, fully electric sports car called the Circuit. The other ENVI vehicles, announced last year are an all-electric Lotus sports car and a plug-in hybrid minivan and Jeep Wrangler. No definite word on when any of these will be available to the public, although Chrysler says it hopes to roll out one member of the line next year.