Green car preview at Detroit Auto Show

Detroit skyline, by jdurchen [Flickr]

Detroit skyline, by jdurchen [Flickr]

Media days for the 2017 Detroit Auto Show begin amidst significant uncertainty about green cars and their future in the U.S.

It remains unclear how the incoming Trump Administration will treat current fuel-economy and emissions standards.

Continued low gas prices are driving a boom in SUV and crossover sales, something reflected in the number new of utility vehicles that are expected to appear in Detroit.

DON'T MISS: Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi prototype to appear in Detroit

But autonomous driving is also expected to be a major theme, and electrified powertrains have become intertwined with the development of self-driving cars.

We expect a few notable green-car debuts, or at least debuts of cars that emphasize fuel efficiency to some extent—though no significant global debuts of new, high-volume battery-electric production cars.

We've rounded them all up here, but be sure to check our Detroit Auto Show news page for updates.

2018 BMW 530e iPerformance

2018 BMW 530e iPerformance

BMW 530e iPerformance

The BMW 530e iPerformance is the latest in an ever-growing range of BMW plug-in hybrid models.

Like all plug-in hybrids based on existing BMW models, the 530e wears the "iPerfomance" badge to tie it to the i8 and the i3 electric car, BMW's green models based on dedicated platforms.

This one is based on the redesigned 2017 BMW 5-Series, with a powertrain derived from that of the 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid.

ALSO SEE: 2018 BMW 530e 'iPerformance' plug-in hybrid sedan for U.S. unveiled

That powertrain includes a a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a single electric motor fed by a 9.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

Unlike the smaller 330e, the 530e will be available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The 530e goes on sale in the U.S. in Spring 2017, meaning it will likely be sold as a 2018 model.

Chrysler Portal concept, 2017 Consumer Electronics Show

Chrysler Portal concept, 2017 Consumer Electronics Show

Chrysler Portal concept

The Chrysler Portal all-electric minivan concept that debuted at CES is expected to debut to hometown audiences in Detroit as well.

It features seating for six and a claimed range of 250 miles, courtesy of a 100-kWh battery pack.

The Portal is capable of autonomous driving, but only to Level 3—meaning it can perform all functions in certain situations, like highway driving, without the need for a driver to monitor it.

MORE: Chrysler Portal concept: all-electric minivan for CES offers some self-driving

That's a couple of steps down from Level 5, in which a vehicle can handle all driving situations without any human involvement—or without any humans onboard at all, for that matter.

To keep its occupants busy, the Portal sports an elaborate infotainment system, including two large screens that take up most of the dashboard.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is working with Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project, and has supplied 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to that newly-independent company for conversion into autonomous test vehicles.

An example of the self-driving Pacifica Hybrid may be displayed at the Detroit show as well.

Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi prototype

Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi prototype

Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi prototype

Briefly mentioned amid a flurry of recent electrified-vehicle announcements, a prototype Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi will make its public debut in Detroit.

The Transit Connect small van is already used as a taxi in many U.S. cities, but Ford doesn't currently offer a hybrid version.

Ford has not discussed technical details of the prototype, or any timeline for a decision on production feasibility.

The company has 13 new electrified models planned for the next few years, including a 300-mile electric SUV, and hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150 full-size pickup truck.

Second-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid automated driving research vehicle

Second-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid automated driving research vehicle

Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous-driving prototype

Ford too is promoting its autonomous-driving efforts; it has displayed its second-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous prototype, and plans to bring the car to Detroit as well.

The company has used Fusion Hybrid sedans for prototype self-driving cars since 2013, including testing them on public roads around its Detroit-area headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

However, the latest version uses more powerful computers, and an upgraded suite of sensors that includes smaller and more efficient lidar units.

Ford plans to put an autonomous car into production in 2021, but will only offer it to ride-sharing services.

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