As the largest and oldest auto show in North America comes to a close, nothing is certain in the automotive industry. General Motors is clinging to life, Ford is banking on new technologies to repair their brand image and increase sales, and Chrysler is putting hope into a conceptual crop of EVs and plug-in hybrids. Even the industry darling, hybrid-pushing Toyota, is having its worst year ever.
Nevertheless, people need transportation and the automakers oblige. The Chicago Auto Show was different this year. Exhibits were smaller, decorations were sparse and the U.S. Army recruiters made themselves more visible this time than during any show in recent memory. The relative lack of fanfare made for a show that let the cars do the talking. Here's what they said to us:
Ford is serious about hybrids and they want everyone to know. They now make the most fuel efficient compact SUV and mid-size sedan in America. Lest you forget this, Ford slapped the message on the side of several of their vehicles.
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Ford Fusion Hybrid
General Motors is in to EVs, plug-in hybrids and any other alternative fuel available to man. But really they're as cuckoo over super fast gas guzzlers as the rest of us, save for the whole global warming issue. Thus Chevy's internal strife over whether or not to produce the 2010 Camaro Z28.
Chevy Volt Powertrain
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept
Chrysler has some good ideas for an electric future that are further from production than anything Detective Del Spooner has ever seen. Hey, most good things start with good ideas. If nothing else, it's tasty eye candy.
Dodge Circuit EV
Chrysler 200C EV
The company that popularized the hybrid as we know it will popularize it in its luxury division. The upcoming Lexus HS250h and RX Hybrids will bring Toyota Motor Company's hybrid portfolio to seven vehicles (eight if they sell two versions of the Prius).
Lexus RX Hybrid
Lexus HS 250h
The new Honda Insight may be lighting up the blogosphere, but apparently Chicagoans aren't interested, or at least they weren't when this picture was taken (aside from one bystander who seems afraid to get too close).
All in all, the auto industry has green on the brain. Getting the green in this day and age means selling green technologies like the many aforementioned gas-electric hybrids and EVs. Only time will tell how these companies weather the global economic crisis. If auto shows over the past several years are any indication though, the industry is transforming for the better.