Electric Buzz From NAIAS in Detroit

It’s not surprising to hear the mood at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week is a little subdued. The only buzz being generated by the Big Three is about the “going out of business” sale price on their Gulfstream V’s. For the first time, a South Korean car (Hyundai’s Genesis) was honored as the North American Car of the Year. But the real excitement was around the unveiling of some of the hybrids and EVs at this year’s show.

The 2010 Prius, for instance, reports a 9% improvement in fuel economy (to 50 mpg!) and a solar panel roof, which won’t power the AC (as rumor had it) but instead will provide power to the ventilation system. The newest SmartCar (ForTwo Electric Drive) looks promising, and, against the prevailing pessimism of the car biz, Smart USA announced it exceeded its 16,000 unit target by more than 8,000 sales. While parent Daimler hasn’t announced specifications of the ForTwo Electric Drive, it will be powered by a lithium-ion battery.

It seems the biggest buzz surrounded the unveiling of a hybrid sportscar, the Fisker Karma. The Karma uses so-called Q-Drive plug-in technology, which will allow the car to go 50 miles before burning fuel. A solar panel on the roof can add 4-5 miles per week, if parked outside. And the Karma will average 100 mpg.

Of course, the Karma could be yours for a cool $87,000.

[Update] After we added this post, MSNBC ran a story about how “Automakers Are Charged Up About Electric Cars.” Interesting overview of that excitement.

MSNBC's article

MSNBC

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