11.1.2012 Detroit hosts NAIAS Motor Show 2012
The North American International Auto Show 2012 (NAIAS) kicked off its press and industry previews this week, with the public show running from 14th until 22nd January.
Renowned for being one of the largest car shows worldwide, with over 500 vehicles on display, this year's show has already been reported as being filled with enthusiasm and excitement, especially towards models using cutting edge green and efficient technologies.
"The buzz is back," proclaimed Bill Perkins, chairman, NAIAS 2012. "Press Preview exceeded our expectations with more than 93% of the new vehicles introduced being worldwide unveilings. I think the journalists need a few days to process everything they witnessed during the 35 NAIAS press conferences."
2012 will be the 105th NAIAS, and themes have certainly changed over the years. There will still be a fair share of gas guzzlers that have always been popular among the Americans, but the focus on smaller, lightweight models, using ultra fuel efficient conventional engines as well as electric and hybridised powertrains has never been so pronounced.
Ford is amongst the major plug-in supporting manufacturers, and with the show taking place in their home town, Detroit, has had a major presence so far this year. Their all-electric Focus will launch in the US this year, as will the C-MAX hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.
Ford also announced that they will be offering a range of new powertrains for the Mondeo, including petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid options, each expected to deliver top fuel economy and low emissions.
Volkswagen has announced the electrification of several models – the E-Bugster electric car concept is based on the iconic Beetle. An 85 kWh electric motor and lithium-ion batteries will deliver a range of over 110 miles, with a fast charge taking just 35 minutes.
The debut of the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid was also made this year at NAIAS – a 1.4 litre TSI 150 PS petrol engine and 20 kW electric motor will result in fuel efficiency 20% better than that from the equivalent petrol Jetta. It will launch in the US in November 2012, but sadly VW have no plans as yet to bring it to the UK.
BMW are another major manufacturer with a keen interest in reducing emissions through the use of alternative technologies. Their ActiveHybrid 5 will make its debut in Detroit, ahead of its spring 2012 launch, and BMW confirmed that they will follow this model with an Active Hybrid 3 version. Also on display from BMW will be their i3 and i8 concept electric and plug-in hybrid models, which debuted at the LA Auto Show last year.
The recently announced XC60 Plug-in HYBRID from Volvo will also be on display in Detroit this year – following on from the V60 as Volvos second plug-in hybrid model. The V60 is the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid, but the XC60 will use a petrol engine which is likely to appeal more to a US audience. It is not yet confirmed that the XC60 will be the model of choice, but we are sure to see this petrol electric plug-in powertrain in a Volvo model in the not too distant future.
Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz has also made some interesting announcements at the show this year – most prominent amongst their greener models are the E 300 BlueTEC diesel HYBRID with 67.2 mpg and 109 gCO2/km and the E 400 petrol HYBRID with US fuel efficiency of 27 mpg. Both are based on the best-selling E-class model, the E 300 diesel hybrid is more intended for European markets and the E400 petrol version is expected to sell better in the US.
Honda have used the 2012 show to premier a plug-in hybrid version of their popular and most established Accord model, which will use 2 electric motors and return class leading fuel economy. A 6 kWh lithium-ion battery and 120 kW electric motor and have an all-electric range of 10 to 15 miles and take 1.5 hours for a full recharge. Honda also announced a hybrid NSX sports car concept that will use twin electric motors and a VTEC V-6 direct-injection engine.
Other interesting models at this year's show include an all-electric 55 kW urban pick-up from smart, an electric e-NV200 Concept van from Nissan using technology from the LEAF, the LF-LC 2+2 sports coupe from Lexus and the advanced Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid.
There are far too many green alternatively powered cars, both concepts and production models, to mention – indicative that the automotive industry is certainly heading towards hybridisation and electrification of powertrains.
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