Electric cars advance in Detroit

Electric car concepts and production models from major automakers debuted at the 2010 Detroit auto show.

Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf goes into production at the end of this year. Sarah Tew/CNET

DETROIT--We've seen a growing number of electric cars at auto shows over the last few years, but the 2010 Detroit show has more electrics from major brands than ever before. It is true that most are concepts, but it points to the fact that automakers are preparing for the future.

Nissan and Mitsubishi both had production-ready cars on display, models slated to launch later this year. Tesla also had a significant display at the show, with its Model S sedan showing the company can produce practical electric car with space for family and friends. Audi showed a new version of its e-tron concept car, and announced its intention to produce some form of electric car by 2012.

BMW and Volvo both showed electric cars intended to herald a test fleet, cars that would be leased to private parties or public entities to provide data on the feasibility of electric cars in the real world.

Then there was the oddball Tango, a strange-looking vehicle with astounding performance figures. Its manufacturer, Commuter Cars Corporation, proudly pointed out that George Clooney owns one.

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