Detroit Auto Show preview: Diesels, electrics, and hybrids

The Detroit Auto show next week is one of the most important events on the automotive calendar, and 2013 features some exciting new vehicles coming onto the market. 

Eric Gailliard/Reuters/File
A new Maserati Quattroporte car is displayed on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, in this December 10, 2012 file photo. Fiat's luxury brand, Maserati, will unveil a newly redesigned Quattroporte sedan at the Detroit auto show, which begins on January 13.

Next week is the annual Detroit Auto Show, one of the most important events on the automotive calendar and increasingly a place for car companies to show off new green technology. Given consumer tastes and the trends in the market, it should come as no surprise that the list of green cars, whether we’re talking compacts, diesels, electrics or hybrids, grows longer with each running of the show.

 For 2013 there are some exciting new vehicles coming onto the market, including some we never thought would be reported on here at Green Car Reports.
 Once again, our team of reporters will be on hand in Detroit to bring you all the breaking news, plus live photos and video footage.

 In the lead-up to the first press day on Monday, January 14, let’s take a quick look at some of the new cars and concepts scheduled to be unveiled.

Concept Cars

Honda Urban SUV Concept: Honda will preview a sporty subcompact SUV in Detroit that’s based on the Fit platform and could hint at the new styling direction for the Japanese automaker’s small cars. Honda hasn’t revealed many details on the concept, apart from a sole teaser image, though the automaker does mention that it combines the spacious and functional interior of the Fit with a more rugged SUV design.

 Via Motors X-Truck: Electric vehicle startups come and go, but it's harder to ignore one fronted by “father of the Chevy VoltBob Lutz. Yes, we are, of course, talking about Via Motors, which last year in Detroit debuted a Chevy pickup converted to electric power.

 Via has started taking orders for the truck though deliveries are yet to happen, though that hasn’t stopped the company from announcing several new models. One of these will be an extended-range electric pickup with more than 800 horsepower on tap.

 Toyota Furia Concept: We’re not sure if Toyota’s upcoming Furia concept will be a green car, but what we know from the few teasers released for it is that it will be a compact sedan with styling elements borrowed from last year’s NS4 plug-in hybrid sedan concept. We do know that Toyota’s Corolla sedan is due for an update soon, so perhaps this new Furia might be a preview.

Nissan Resonance Concept: Announced on Friday, we know very little at all about the resonance concept, other than the single line of info and moody picture Nissan has revealed. The Resonance crossover, says Nissan, fuses bold styling with a hybrid-electric powertrain... and that's about it. We'll bring you more when it's revealed on January 15.

Volkswagen CrossCoupe TDI Concept: The CrossCoupe concept is nothing new, having initially appeared at Geneva last year, but could VW be hinting at something by showing it again in Detroit? Time will tell, but quoted European economy of 130 mpg certainly gets our attention.

Hit the next page to see the long list of production green cars set to be unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show next week. And remember, you can catch our full Detroit coverage at any time via our dedicated show hub.

Production Cars

 When it comes to green cars that are actually coming onto the market in the near future, the list is surprisingly long. Some of the cars are redesigned versions of existing models or simply facelifts, but there are some exciting newcomers too.
2014 Cadillac ELR: The ELR can actually trace its roots back to the Converj concept car unveiled in 2009, which proved so popular it was almost immediately approved for production. GM’s bankruptcy at the time put those plans on hold but then in 2011 the Converj reappeared, this time labeled the ELR.

 Now, finally, we get to see the production version GM first envisaged all those years ago. While no official details have been released, the car is expected to be powered by an upgraded version of the Voltec extended-range electric drivetrain found in the Chevrolet Volt. In fact, the ELR will be the first model after the Volt to utilize the system.
2013 Nissan Leaf: Nissan is getting ready to start production of its Leaf electric car at its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. This will be the first time that the car is produced outside of Japan and we should be seeing one of the locally-produced versions in Detroit next week.

The U.S. version of the updated 2013 Leaf, which recently went on sale in Japan, will be built among Altima and Maxima sedans on the existing assembly line. You may recall that Nissan has already started production of the electric motors and lithium-ion batteries, and soon full Leaf hatchbacks will be rolling off the line too.

The rumored lower-equipment model is now confirmed, as the Leaf S. A 6.6 kW charger is optional on this model, and standard on higher trim levels. A host of other improvements should boost the Leaf's appeal.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class: The Mercedes-Benz E Class, in diesel and hybrid trims, is one of our favorite green cars as it offers not only generous space but plenty of luxury amenities too. The car has just been facelifted for the 2014 model year, receiving tweaked styling, new driver assistance systems and a new four-cylinder diesel option.
 That’s right. In fall 2013, an E250 BlueTEC with 4Matic all-wheel drive will become available, offering a four-cylinder diesel to the E Class range. Rated at 190 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, the E250 BlueTEC promises good, if not scintillating, performance while maximizing fuel economy. The E400 Hybrid will continue unchanged.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class: Mercedes-Benz is also set to debut its first compact car in the U.S., the long-awaited CLA Class. The stylish four-door coupe is expected to be revealed officially this month, though images of the car have already hit the Web. Based on the same front-wheel-drive platform underpinning the latest A Class and B Class sold overseas, this will be Mercedes’ only compact model in the U.S. until a GLA Class compact SUV joins it next year.
 Hit the next page to see all the rest of the green car news surrounding the upcoming 2013 Detroit Auto Show. And remember, you can catch our full Detroit coverage at any time via our dedicated show hub.

2014 Jeep Cherokee EcoDiesel: The long-awaited diesel Jeep will be making its debut at Detroit, freshly equipped with Chrysler's 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine. With 406 pounds-feet of torque it'll tow with the best of them, yet 33 mpg is possible in highway driving. The Cherokee already sells well, and the new diesel model should widen its appeal further--in a diesel market expected to make up 10 percent of total vehicle sales by 2015.

And The Rest

Thomas Edison: Yes, thanks to Via Motors, American icon Thomas Edison will be making an appearance, in holographic form, at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. The holographic presentation titled A Conversation with Thomas Edison will be presented during VIA Motors' press conference. In the presentation, a stunningly life-like hologram of Edison will engage in an interactive conversation with Via’s Bob Lutz about the future of the electric vehicle.

North American Car and Truck of the Year awards: Each year a group of journalists pick the best car and the truck offered in the North American market. This year there are a couple of interesting nominees from both the car and truck categories. For the car category, we have the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, both of which offer regular gas models as well as hybrids and even plug-in hybrid models. Interestingly, in the truck category a Ford C-Max has made it into the final round.

2013 Nissan Versa: Though it’s not yet confirmed, there is a good chance that the U.S. version of the 2013 Nissan Versa will be revealed in Detroit. Nissan has confirmed that its next Versa hatchback will use the same platform as the Nissan Note sold overseas and will echo many of its styling cues. Meanwhile, Nissan will also be updating the Versa sedan for 2013.

 That’s it for now, but remember to tune in next week for all the breaking news direct from the halls of Detroit’s Cobo Arena. You can catch our full coverage of the show via our dedicated show hub.

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