As the first day of press preview at the North American International Auto Show comes to a close, it's clear that automakers are taking hybrid technology and alternative fuels seriously. While there are plenty of unapologetic, gas guzzling SUV's to gawk at, you're never too far from a company proudly displaying their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Granted, a true "commitment" would probably entail halting production of these oil hungry behemoths altogether and replacing them with efficient, earth friendly models. But it's an encouraging start.
GM is the big news, hitting the ground running with the Chevy Volt, a battery-powered, four-passenger electric vehicle that uses a gas engine to create additional electricity to extend its range. They also present a hybrid version of the Tahoe tucked away in their exhibit.
Ford Motor Company displays its 2008 model year Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid which use braking energy to recharge their batteries. It also offers the Airstream concept with a plug-in hybrid fuel cell that is half the weight and cost of those currently available.
Saab displayed a concept car that can run on vegetable oil and electricity-no fossil fuel required.
Lexus used more than half of their display space to feature three classy hybrids. And, as a surprise to no one, Toyota continues to tout its hybrid collection, plus display great vision in the form of the FT-HS Sport concept.
This year, it seems that the manufacturers are not only counting on attracting buyers with the promise of a greener earth. They're designing some pretty hot looking vehicles as well. Gone are the space-pod electric concepts of years past, replaced with concepts that would be exciting for their style alone. From stylish sport models to 4-wheel drive mid-size SUV's, soon there could be an environmentally friendly choice for anyone.