Hybrid and plug-in news from the Los Angeles Auto Show

The Los Angeles Auto Show is going on this week, and there’s lots of news (and pictures) out on all sorts of hybrid, plug-ins, and electric vehicles.

To start with, the latest configuration of the Chevy Volt (the “extended range electric vehicle” from GM) was shown, even though the Volt won’t be hitting the showrooms until 2011.    One new piece of information – the engine that helps to recharge the batteries that run the car does not have to be a gasoline engine – it can be a natural gas, biofuel, diesel, or hydrogen engine .  As Auto123.com points out, “his is the Volt’s true genius. This could mean that at any given time, the Volt could be sold with a generator that runs on the cheapest available form of energy and in theory, two Volts sold by a same dealer could have different types of generators; one biodiesel and the other, E85.”

2010 version of the Chevrolet Volt
2010 version of the Chevrolet Volt

Volkswagen showed off their Up! Lite concept, which is a small four passenger three door car combining a 51 hp, 0.8 liter two cylinder turbo-diesel engine combined with an electric motor that adds about 13 hp.  VW claims that the Up! Lite will get 70 mpg on the highway.   While doing 0-60  mph in 12 seconds, the Up! Lite is hardly a hotrod, but VW is aiming the concept at urbanites.  Check out Car and Driver for more pictures.

VW Up! Lite concept car
VW Up! Lite concept car

Capstone Turbine Corp is showing off their new CMT-380, a high performance plug in hybrid electric “supercar” powered by batteries and an ultra low emission, range extending microturbine (basically an ultra-clean and quiet jet engine).  In what may be the understatement of the year, Jim Crouse, Capstone’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing said, “The sleek-looking, high-performance [CMT-80] supercar definitely raises hybrid’s cool factor several levels.”    0-60 in 3.9 seconds, and a driving range of up to 500 miles on a single tank of gas.

capstone turbine hybrid
capstone turbine hybrid


Honda  P-NUT city car concept was on display.   The P-NUT (Personal Neo Urban Transport) is a three passenger tiny city car that can be powered by either a internal combustion engine, a hybrid system or an electric motor.    The seating is a little different too.  The driver is up front in the middle, with the two passenger seats side by side behind the driver.

Honda P-NUT
Honda P-NUT

Hyundai is planning on coming out with a hybrid version of their new Sonata, which will be their first hybrid model.  The hybrid version of the 2011 Sonata will go on sale next summer, and will use a lithium polymer battery.

2011 hyundai sonata
2011 hyundai sonata

In other news, Toyota showed off  its Prius plug-in, but they don’t seem to be very forthcoming with details about the car.   Supposedly, next year some time a small group of Toyota customers and test partners will get to live with a test version of the car.      And the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid took the Auto Show honors as the most Environmentally Progressive Car of the Year.

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