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NAIAS 2009

The Lexus HS 250h luxury hybrid

January 13, 2009 In keeping with the strong theme of efficiency over gas-guzzling muscle at this year's Detroit NAIAS auto show, Lexus has introduced a new hybrid sedan to its lineup, slated to go on sale in Q3 2009. 30% more fuel-efficient than anything else in the Lexus range, the 187-horsepower, 4-cylinder HS 250h is an acknowledgement by the biggest-selling luxury car brand in the USA that even the cashed-up luxury market wants to control its use of fossil fuels. While the HS 250h is miserly on fuel (Lexus claim it will drink less per mile than the tiny Smart Fortwo) it's still a big spender on the interior, with some serious driver assist features, heads-up display, radar-governed cruise control, parking cameras and a voice-controlled nav/premium audio system.  Read More

GM to manufacture Chevy Volt battery packs in the US

General Motors is getting back into the battery business. It had been a two horse race between Korea’s LG and US startup A123 systems to win the supply contract for the Chevrolet Volt. LG Chem and Compact Power Inc. were one team and A123 Systems/Continental the second team selected from an initial field of 27 applicants to compete against one another to build the Chevy Volt’s battery packs. GM announced in September 2008 that it had chosen a battery supplier, but would not reveal which company that was. But has either team actually won?  Read More

The international press scramble to get close to the new Karma S in Detroit

Fisker Automotive has just taken the wraps off the much anticipated technology demonstrator that will become the second model in its plug-in hybrid sportscar range at the 2009 NAIAS. The new two-door, four-seater, hard-top convertible joins the four-door sedan model announced at last year's show and is built on the same versatile Q-DRIVE platform on which the company's range will be based. The sedan model, which boasts a 50 mile electric-drive only range, acceleration of 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 125mph, remains on track for delivery later this year, while the Karma S is expected to hit showrooms in 2011.  Read More

Cadillac's Converj concept

January 12, 2009 If one thing is immediately and staggeringly obvious at this year's Detroit NAIAS auto show, it's that electric, hybrid and extended-range electric cars have stepped out of the shadowy corners to which they were relegated in 2008, and they're now the main event for a lot of manufacturers. It seems the auto industry's well-documented woes in 2008, as well as consumer reaction to volatile petrol pricing, have galvanized even the most stalwart of old-school Detroit metal makers into action on gasoline alternatives. The extended-range electric seems to offer the most painless transition to primarily-electric motoring, and this is the way Cadillac have chosen to go with the Converj concept we saw unveiled earlier today. Capable of dealing with a typical 40-mile daily commute on full-electric, but with a petrol generator to make long trips possible, the 100mph Converj is a glamorous hint at what Cadillac intend to do with electric engines.  Read More

Kia Soul’ster open air concept

January 11, 2009 Though it’s hard to visualize summer in Detroit right now with two inches of snow in the streets, Kia debuted an interesting open air concept based on the production model Soul, which will be arriving in showrooms in Q2 starting at US$14,000. With such a low starting price, the Soul’ster’s target market of young singles would no doubt appreciate the economical budget-priced front wheel drive concept. Designed to satisfy satisfy “multiple consumer needs”, it could be a very practical vehicle in the real world, with plenty of load space, and a two-piece top that allows passengers to expose the front and back seating areas independently. The roof may be retractable, but there are no fancy automatic mechanisms - this roof runs on elbow-grease technology, which is just fine because we think the Soul’ster looks likely to get the green light for production.  Read More

Audi R8 V105.2 FSI

"The Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro was my pick of the first day at Detroit,“ writes Noel McKeegan from the North American International Auto Show which opened today. "It was the most aesthetically striking car that wasn’t a concept, and with the 525 hp 5.2 liter V10 engine replacing the 420 bhp 4.2 V8, performance has gone another level. With the quattro all-wheel drive, LED-headlights and aluminum body with a very curvaceous rear end treatment, it really is a knockout."  Read More

Toyota to show battery-electric concept vehicle in Detroit

There's no images and no details, just a tantalizing two line press release, but given that this news comes from the world's largest car maker and manufacturer of the first mass produced hybrid vehicle, we think it rates a mention. Here's the release in full - "Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. will display a battery electric vehicle concept at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. This display marks the world debut of this concept vehicle".  Read More

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