Text: Brent Co / Photos: courtesy of NAIAS, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru | posted January 18, 2009 18:58
Green vehicles and technologies on focus
The North American International Auto Show held in Detroit, is regarded as one of the most prestigious auto shows in the world. The show, in its 21st staging, can be considered as the industry preview for the year for the largest automotive market in the world. This year's show focused more on green vehicles and technologies for a sustainable future and to further decrease the dependence on oil which set a record high in the middle of 2008.
One of the highlights of the show is the announcement of the North American Car and Truck of the Year. Finalists for the 2009 North American Car Of The Year were the Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Truck Of The Year was contended by the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, and the Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec. Last year's winners were the Chevrolet Malibu and the Mazda CX-9, respectively. For 2009, journalists voted the Hyundai Genesis and the Ford F-150 as the Car and Truck Of The Year.
The 2009 show featured more than 40 vehicles debuts from the world's top carmakers and autopart makers. Leading the debuts for green technologies was Johnson Controls which introduced the RE3 Lithium-Ion Hybrid Plug-in concept. Denso unveiled its new radiator made from Castor beans. Michelin introduced a new fuel efficient all-weather tire design.
The show floor was filled with previews of Electric Vehicles and Hybrid technologies from American, Japanese, Korean and Chinese manufacturers. BMW debuted its new Concept-7 Active Hybrid with an eight-cylinder gasoline and electric motor integrated together. Chrysler introduced the 200C EV, Town and Country EV, Dodge Circuit EV, and Jeep Patriot EV. Fisker shows its new Karma S hybrid sports car concept as well as unveils its production model Karma Premium plug-in car which will sell for $87,900. GM unveiled the Cadillac Converj hybrid. Honda debuted the Insight Hybrid. Lexus debuted the HS250h, touted as the world's first dedicated hybrid. Mercedes-Benz previewed its BlueZero, a configurable concept car based on the B-series platform which can be in the form of an E-Cell (electric), F-Cell (hydrogen fuel cell) or E-Cell Plus (hybrid). Smart showed off its new lithium ion powered Electric Drive. Toyota revealed the new generation Prius and unveiled its new FT-EV based on the IQ minicar platform. Chinese carmaker Build Your Dreams (BYD) introduced a trio of electric vehicles, the E6, F6DM and the F3DM.
Audi celebrated 100 years and introduced the V6 diesel powered Sportback Concept to be sold as the A7 in 2010 and unveiled the R8 5.2 FSI. Bentley pulled off the covers on its Continental GTC Speed. BMW debuted its new Z4 sDrive 30i. Brilliance China introduced its new M3 Brilliance racing-style coupe. Ford showed off its 2010 model Taurus, new Flex with EcoBoost which promises V8 power with V6 economy and the 2010 Shelby GT500 which produces 540-horsepower. GM introduced the Chevy Equinox, Chevy Orlando and the fuel efficient mini car Chevy Spark, which was inspired from the Best concept. Kia debuted the Soul'ster Concept. Jaguar revealed the performance variants of its latest cars in the form of the new XKR and the XFR, which recently made a new record in the Bonneville Salt Flats as the fastest Jaguar at 225.675mph. Maserati showed off its new powerhouse, the Quattroporte Sport GTS, touted as the most powerful luxury car ever built. Mercedes-Benz introduced its new E-Class and upped the ante on its performance lineup with the last SLR iteration in the form of the special edition McLaren SLR Stirling Moss. Mini launched its new Mini Convertible, likewise showcasing a Mini-E electric vehicle concept. Revenge strikes back with its new 505-horsepower GTM-R performance car which weighs at a mere 2550lbs. Subaru debuted its Legacy Concept. VW introduced the Bluesport Concept, an affordable, economical and agile diesel powered mid-engine roadster. Volvo debuted its S60 Concept which features race track inspired flowing lines and a retractable rear diffuser.
The 2009 North American International Auto Show is not as big as its previous shows but still managed to hold its ground amidst the world economic slowdown. Organizers are expecting to welcome more than 700,000 visitors for this year's event.