Detroit Auto Show 2012: The hybrids are here

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Going all-electric is a step too far for most, but the choice of hybrid cars is growing. Toyota’s previewing a member of the next-gen Prius family with the NS4 concept, a plug-in hybrid with a smartphone-like operating interface and advanced automatic crash-sensing systems; the LF-LC 2+2 coupe, meanwhile, showcases the thinking on the future of Lexus design.

Honda’s Acura division has – after much teasing last year – finally produced a new-age NSX concept.To be built and developed in the US and go on sale by 2015, this  super-coupe will combine a mid-mounted direct-injection V6 and electric motor, driving torque to all four wheels. On a slightly more accessible note, the upcoming Acura ILX compact saloon will come with an Accord-style hybrid option.

Volvo’s showing off the V60 PHEV (plug-in hybrid) with a view to its US launch, Volkswagen the Jetta Hybrid, and Mercedes-Benz its E400  and E300, the first with a 3.5 V6 petrol engine and the latter a four-cylinder, 2.1-litre Bluetec diesel. Neither of the Mercs can do more than a mile or 35mph in all-electric mode, however.

Arguably the most important of the hybrids at the show, however – at least for us in Europe – is the Ford Fusion, aka next Mondeo. It’ll come in two forms (as well as conventional gas or diesel), standard Hybrid or plug-in Energi, both with a new four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine, and Ford says the Energi will be more efficient than either the Chevy Volt or Prius PHV.


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