Move over, rpm; make way for mpg

Detroit will play host to a number of economical and efficient debuts.

Automotive News
4 min read

Automotive News

High-performance cars will get a nod at the North American International Auto Show next week, but electrics and hybrids will get the buzz.

Volkswagen and Toyota will show hybrid concepts; Audi, BMW, and Fiat will unveil electric concepts. Honda will show the production version of the CR-Z hybrid hatchback.

The Detroit auto show will put together many electric cars and technology in one area called Electric Avenue.

Meanwhile, the high-performance crowd will get their due with the CTS-V coupe from Cadillac and a performance sedan concept from Buick.

Mercedes-Benz will take the wraps off of the fourth variant of its new E class--a production convertible that replaces the CLK.

Here is a roundup of the show's world debuts of production and concept vehicles.

Audi will debut an electric-car concept.

BMW will pull the wraps off an electric concept called the ActiveE. The car is based on the 1-series coupe and is powered by a lithium ion battery pack developed by a joint venture between Samsung SDI and Robert Bosch. The car is said to have a range of 100 miles. The electric motor is integrated into the rear axle. Speed will be electrically limited to 90 mph, according to BMW.

According to the automaker, the rear-drive ActiveE can be fully recharged with high current in 4.5 hours. BMW will field test the car in late 2010, leasing it to customers in specific regions for one year.

Buick is expected to show a performance sedan concept. General Motors executives are eager for Buick to regain some performance credentials.

Cadillac will unveil a concept car and the production 2011 CTS-V coupe, due in showrooms next summer. This is a high-performance version of the CTS coupe, which debuted in December at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Chevrolet will show its Aveo RS concept, which is sportier and bigger than the current production version. A redesigned Aveo is expected next year.

Chrysler Group will show a concept version of the Lancia Delta midsize hatchback with a Chrysler grille. The vehicle is not planned for North American production. Rather, it shows the potential of the Chrysler-Fiat alliance.

Chrysler is not holding a formal press conference during the Detroit show because it has no new vehicles to display. The automaker unveiled the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee at the New York show last spring. That vehicle is scheduled to arrive in the second quarter of 2010.

At the Chrysler exhibit, Fiat will show an electric version of the Fiat 500 small car.

Ford will unveil a production version of the redesigned 2012 Ford Focus sedan. The vehicle also will be available as a three-door hatchback.

Martin Smith, Ford's European design chief, said the car's styling theme is called Kinetic 2.0, the automaker's new global design language for small and midsize cars and crossovers. Some styling cues will be lifted from the current European Focus. The redesigned Focus will go on sale in early 2011.

GMC is expected to show a small crossover concept, similar to the concept shown to selected journalists and analysts in August at GM's design center outside Detroit. That vehicle was similar in size to the Chevrolet HHR.

Honda is showing the production version of the 2011 CR-Z hybrid sporty hatchback. The CR-Z's 1.5-liter internal combustion engine is basically the same as the one in the Fit hatchback. The CR-Z's electric motor also is a less powerful version of what appears in the Insight and Civic hybrids.

As a result, the CR-Z's 0-to-62-mph time of 9.7 seconds with a continuously variable transmission, according to leaked Japan market specifications, might not match the two-seater's sporty appearance.

American Honda Motors spokesman Todd Mittleman cautioned that U.S. specifications and performance figures might be different from those of the Japan-market vehicle. But because the CR-Z is a low-volume world car, expect only minimal differences, if any.

The reskinned 2011 MKX midsize crossover is expected to adopt Lincoln's signature design cues, including the split grille. It shares Ford's global midsize vehicle platform with the Ford Edge. Lincoln will unveil a production version at the show.

Mercedes will show the fourth variant of its new E class: a convertible that replaces the CLK. The 2011 convertible goes on sale in May, a month before the new E-class station wagon.

Mini's Beachcomber four-seat concept hints at the direction the brand may take with a small crossover due in the United States next year.

The doorless, dune-buggylike vehicle with an open roof is unlikely to make it into production. But the platform, mechanics and interior will be used in the production crossover, according to Mini. The Beachcomber has a new all-wheel-drive system.

The crossover will be produced by Magna Steyr and will go on sale in Europe next fall and in the United States early in 2011.

Toyota will unveil a hybrid concept. Sources say the company is working on a two-door version of the Prius to compete with Honda's CR-Z. They also say Toyota is working on a hybrid smaller than the Prius.

Volkswagen will debut a hybrid-car concept.

(Source: Automotive News)