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EVs & Hybrids Respark Detroit Dreams

January 19, 2010

Ford, Audi and Toyota Intro New Concept Cars

On Jan.8, I wrote about the Ford Focus as a new smart car with promise. Looks like AutoWeek and other pubs agree. The Focus got a lot of attention and praise at last week’s Detroit car show. The show was abuzz with electric and hybrid vehicles. Below are a couple of items I found worth passing on to IM readers.

Also announced at the show is a new $10 million, X Prize for super efficient cars.  41 U.S. teams are competing. Guess how many teams are from Oregon and Washington? See below…

Jan 14, 2010

Ford Focus Named ‘Most Significant’ Vehicle at 2010 Detroit Auto Show By AutoWeek Magazine

The AutoWeek editorial staff has named Ford’s next-generation Focus the “Most Significant” vehicle of the 2010 North American International Auto Show. High praise indeed, considering the number of excellent cars and trucks at this month’s annual gathering in Detroit. The popular auto show hosted nearly 40 new vehicle premieres.

Audacious EV from Audi Called Star of Show

This showstopper from Audi is an EV sports car with the motors mounted at the rear wheels. Gas versions will also be available.

The Audi E-Tron that was unveiled at the Detroit auto show on Monday. It is the second concept Audi has revealed with the E-Tron name.

DETROIT — Audi introduced a second electric car prototype in Detroit today, and it’s a family affair. Like the two-seater sports car Audi showed off recently in Frankfurt and Los Angeles, the new concept is also named E-Tron. The automaker is not trying to be confusing, said Michael Dick, a member of Audi’s Management Board, interviewed in Detroit. Audi says that “E-Tron” will be the name for a family of electric cars — hopefully to gain the same kind of resonance as “quattro” and “TDI.” Full NYT article…

Lots of shots from Car & Driver. E-Tron Detroit Concept – Gallery and here’s a C&D video.

More on Audi, Toyota and the 10 million dollar Automotive X Prize…

More from NYT …

Weighing just under 3,000 pounds (with almost 900 pounds of batteries), the aluminum-and-plastic-bodied, rear-wheel-drive concept car has a combined output of 204 horsepower. A big 45-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is behind the passenger compartment and in front of the rear axle.

“It is a little bit wider and flatter than the TT,” says Filip Brabec, general manager of product planning for Audi of America. “The DNA is closer to the R series, so it could be the second member of that family.”

Audi will produce at least 100 of the earlier and larger e-trons in a small series beginning in 2012. After that, Mr. Dick said “the customers will decide what happens next.” Audi seems interested in offering an e-tron to the public, but is unable to estimate the cost of such a production vehicle — other than to admit that it won’t be cheap. The market would be “for customers who like extraordinary and very sporty cars,” Mr. Dick said. “They’d have to be ready to invest a lot of money in a car that shows off all possibilities of the electrification of the automobile.”

Two electric motors on this rear-wheel drive vehicle produce a combined 204 hp. With the aluminum body and coupe design, Audi claims it can go 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds.

On a more practical and modest level was news from Toyota:

Toyota Expands Prius Family

Toyota Rolls Out a Baby Prius

From Wired magazine’s Autopia…

DETROIT — Toyota plans to sell more than a million hybrids annually within the first half of this decade, and it’s taken a big step toward that goal by unveiling a baby brother to the Prius.

The FT-CH is 22 inches shorter than the Prius, but less than one inch narrower. It’s designed primarily for city driving, and if built will be priced for young buyers. If it sees production, it will be cheaper than the 2010 Prius, which starts at $22,400.
The FT-CH hybrid is a concept, but the compact dedicated hybrid speaks to Toyota’s plan to create a family of cars descended from the Prius. The company that made “hybrid” a household word wants to offer a wide range of gas-electric models while branching out into plug-in hybrids and even electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

“Within the next 10 to 20 years, we will not only reach peak oil, we will enter a period where demand for all liquid fuels will exceed supply,” said Jim Lentz, TMS president. “A century after the invention of the automobile, we must re-invent it with powertrains that significantly reduce or eliminate the use of conventional petroleum fuels.

“One of many alternatives is through what is commonly called the electrification of the automobile. By far, the single most successful example of this has been the gas-electric hybrid.”

The X Prize Foundation spurs the race  to “inspire a new generation of super-efficient vehicles.”

Winners of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will split a $10 million purse.

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE has chosen the state of Michigan to host an intense multi-stage competition that aims to pit some of the world’s most fuel efficient vehicles against one another in a quest to win their share of a $10 million prize purse. Qualified teams are planning to arrive in Michigan for the start of on-track performance events in the spring of 2010, thanks to a unique new partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan International Speedway (MIS), announced today at the North American International Auto Show.

For 2010, The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will bring fifty-one super efficient cars from 41 teams to the state of Michigan to host an intense multi-stage competition. The competitors that have made it this far have all survived the painstaking design judging phase and will now ready their vehicles for the start of on-track performance events coming this spring.

Sad to say that no Oregon teams are participating in this contest. There are two from Washington and five entered from California.

These competitors come from a variety of backgrounds ranging from large auto manufacturers to independent backyard inventors. They heard the call to action and decided that they can make a difference.

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