DETROIT – It got noticeably quieter at day two of the North American International Auto Show, both literally and figuratively. With only about half a dozen new cars revealed, there wasn’t a lot of action in Cobo Hall, and most of what was there ran — at least partially — on silent electric motors.
Lincoln unveiled the new MKT 7-passenger crossover, propelled by a conventional gasoline powered engine, but all of the other significant introductions had batteries on board.
General Motors didn’t even bother with a car, merely showing the lithium-ion battery pack that will one day power the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle. The big news there was the decision to manufacture the new juice box in Michigan, in an effort to bring the technology in-house, and jobs back to the state.
Meanwhile, Toyota introduced the 2010 Prius with a larger, more powerful gasoline motor and a fuel economy rating of 50 miles per gallon. More room inside, and features like a solar-powered climate control system should help the mileage king reach the company’s goal of selling 400,000 worldwide in 2010.
At the other end of the hybrid spectrum is the Fisker Karma luxury sedan. With a powertrain similar to the one intended for the Chevy Volt, this low-slung four-door will be able to go 50 miles on battery power alone, while providing sports car-like performance from twin electric motors producing over 400 horsepower. The US-based boutique carmaker already has over 1,000 orders for the $87,900 four-seater, and promises to have them on the road by the end of the year. If it does, it will be the first plug-in hybrid vehicle available in America.
The Chinese already have one, and they brought it to Detroit with an eye on selling it here by 2011. BYD, or Build Your Dreams, is the world’s largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, and after buying an automobile manufacturer, it has brought the two industries together in the form of the F3DM compact car. With its non-toxic ferrous metal battery pack, the vehicle can travel 62 miles on a full charge. The company claims it can get half a charge in less than 10 minutes, with a fill up taking several hours. A gasoline motor kicks in when the batteries are drained, giving it a range of 250 miles between sockets. The F3DM retails for $22,000 in China.