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3RD LD: Int'l auto show highlighting green technology opens in Detroit.

DETROIT, Jan. 10 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH MORE INFO, QUOTES)

The annual North American International Auto Show opened Monday in Detroit with automakers showcasing more environmentally friendly vehicles as the industry continues to rebound from the recession of past years.

While last year's show focused on green technology as an industry, this year automakers are emphasizing their brands as green technology becomes more mainstream.

Among U.S. carmakers, General Motors Co., which focused on its Chevrolet Volt electric car last year, concentrated this year on the debut of the Chevrolet Sonic, a compact car promising increased fuel efficiency.

Sonic, which debuts on the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet, was shown alongside other smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles that the company hopes will help ''people change the way they think of'' the automaker.

''Today we're building on that momentum...the Volt is just a glimpse of what's possible,'' GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said.

Three Ford Motor Co. electrified vehicles debuted including Ford's first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Ford C-MAX Energi, which promises 800 kilometers on a single charge. Also presented were its first full-electric passenger car, the Ford Focus Electric and a hybrid C-MAX.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, emphasized the importance of creating more environmentally friendly vehicles for a ''greener, cleaner and healthier future.''

Ford also showcased its ''EcoBoost'' engine technology and will conduct a public teardown of the F-150 EcoBoost engine during the public show. The engine was used in a series of ''torture tests'' to display its performance, while decreasing carbon emissions and increasing fuel efficiency.

Tesla Motors Inc., which promoted its electric Roadster by driving 4,300 kilometers from Los Angeles to the 2010 show in Detroit without gasoline, unveiled a model of the shell of its electric Model S sedan, set for delivery in 2012. The Model S has 3,500 advance orders, according to the company.

Japanese automakers are showing their expanding lines of vehicles with green and fuel-efficient technologies.

Toyota Motor Corp. introduced a new ''family'' of Prius hybrid vehicles, including a Prius plug-in hybrid. It also unveiled a larger Prius concept that can seat seven passengers and a compact Prius concept with better fuel efficiency.

Toyota plans to launch the larger Prius concept, the Prius v wagon with a bigger interior cargo space, this summer in the United States and Japan. The new compact Prius c is expected to be put on the market in the first half of next year.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the automaker will further increase lineups of environment-friendly vehicles with the aim of expanding sales.

''We will continue manufacturing vehicles equipped with advanced technologies,'' he said.

Honda Motor Co., known in the United States for its fuel efficiency and design, gave a debut to a new concept for the Civic, smaller and lighter than the current model.

Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are not attending this year.

Daimler AG of Germany revealed its luxury brand Mercedes-Benz series electric sports car SLS AMG E-cell, which board of management member Thomas Weber said will prompt the industry to feel that ''the race for the best electric sports car is on.''

Chinese automaker BYD Co., which first contributed to the main exhibition last year, presented its ''three green dreams'' of providing ''affordable green technology to the masses.''

Founder and Chairman Chuan-fu Wang highlighted his company's ''zero-emission solution'' by first collecting solar energy, converting and storing the energy and then electrifying transportation, including the all-electric eBUS that can drive for about 280 km on a single charge.

Organizers are optimistic about this year's show. There were over 700,000 visitors last year.

''2011 will be another banner year for media, industry and the public alike as they will be able to explore a packed show floor,'' said 2011 NAIAS chairman Barron Meade.

The show will be open to the media through Tuesday and will open to the general public from Jan. 15 to 23.
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Comment:3RD LD: Int'l auto show highlighting green technology opens in Detroit.
Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Jan 18, 2011
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