Big Green Recap of 2009 Detroit Auto Show

Detroit Auto Show 2009 Cobo Center photo

NAIAS 2009 Recap
The Detroit Auto Show is open to the public until this Saturday (January 24th), so we think it's worth doing a little recap of the green highlights. Transportation is an important sector when it comes both to pollution and making our lives better via personal mobility. The big goal is to try to get rid of the negatives while keeping the benefits. That's a huge challenge, and we think the steps forward on display in Detroit are too small, but they're still worth noting.

Read on for more details and photos.

toyota new 2010 prius hybrid photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard. Click to see 2010 Toyota Prius Slideshow.

Toyota's 2010 Third Generation Prius Hybrid

The biggest announcement of the show was no doubt the new Prius.

The Good: 50 MPG combined, up from 46 MPG in the previous model. An improved drag coefficient (from 0.26 to 0.25), an EV-Drive mode like Japan had on the 2nd generation Prius. Some eco-plastics use in the interior, an optional "solar moonroof" to keep the car cooler when parked in the sun (reducing A/C needs).

The Bad: Still using NiMH batteries. We can understand Toyota's reasons for doing that, but we still wish they'd have been a bit less conservative with the battery technology. Lithium-ion is getting mature, it is less toxic thank NiMH, lighter, and more energy-dense. A lithium-ion Prius would've gotten better fuel economy for sure, and it would have been easier to make it a plug-in hybrid.

More on the 2010 Toyota Prius
New 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid Will Get 50 MPG, Optional Solar Roof
Our 2010 Toyota Prius slideshow!

GM Cadillac Converj plug in concept car photo

Cadillac Converj Range-Extended Electric Concept

Only a concept car, the Cadillac Converj is still interesting because it shows that GM has plans (let's hope they materialize) to use the Volt's electric drivetrain, now called "Voltec", in all kinds of vehicles.

Cadillac Converj Technical Specifications
Battery: T-shaped, 16kWh (it would probably be good news for GM if A123 succeeded in mass-producing li-ion in the USA)
Electric Motor: 120kW of power, 273 lb.-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque
Top speed: 100 MPH
Seats: 2+2
MPG: Unknown so far, but certainly very dependent on how many miles you drive per day on average (we need a standardized way to test plug-in hybrids).

More on the Cadillac Converj
Cadillac Converj Range-Extended Electric Concept

gm chevy volt battery pack t-shaped photo

GM to Manufacture Volt Battery Packs in Michigan

Another big announcement from GM was that it would assemble the Volt battery packs in Michigan. The cells would still come from South-Korea LG Chem's (at first, anyway), but the whole thing would be put together there.

GM Battery R&D; Lab
GM has also announced the creation of a 31,000 square feet lab to do battery R&D;, as well as a partnership with the University of Michigan to do fundamental research. "A five-year, $5-million award establishes the GM/U-M Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains (ABCD), headquartered at U-M. Three U-M engineering professors are involved, as is a faculty member at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs."

More on GM's Battery Announcements
GM to Manufacture Volt Battery Packs in Michigan

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