Automakers Roll Out Their Green Lines In L.A.

With California's recent legislative efforts to boost automotive fuel economy and lower emissions, it's no surprise that the 2006 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show is taking on a tinge of green this year.

A range of automakers are using the show, which officially opens today, to tout their hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell programs. Among those displaying green cars and trucks in Los Angeles are General Motors, Nissan, Honda, Ford and BMW.

At a press preview yesterday, GM CEO Rick Wagoner talked about the company's efforts to migrate from oil-based engines by focusing on electric "beyond what we have already committed to with our fuel cell and hybrid programs."

GM, which has lagged Toyota in hybrid models, will next year begin production of trucks and SUVs that can run solely on electric power, Wagoner said, the result of a collaboration with DaimlerChrysler and BMW.

The company will bow a version of Saturn's Vue SUV that can literally be plugged in, can run solely on electricity for up to 75 miles, and get double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV.



Starting next year, GM, which is aiming to bow a new hybrid system every year, will also launch hybrid versions of Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu sedans, and of Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. In 2008, the Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew cab full-size pickups will be offered as hybrids.

Nissan is unveiling the hybrid version of the Altima mid-sized sedan, which goes on sale next year, with technology borrowed from Toyota.

Ford, Honda and BMW all unveiled new hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles bound for limited production runs.

Ford used the show to unveil a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Explorer SUV.

BMW unveils the hydrogen-powered 7-Series sedan it had promised to bring to North America. At the press event, the company said only 100 of the vehicles will be offered, all in the L.A. region.

Honda showed off a slick redesign of its FCX hydrogen car that was first introduced in 2005, and will be offered, in its new look, in limited quantities in 2008.

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday that it will sell to rivals Volkswagen AG, and BMW, as well as sibling Jeep its low-emission diesel technology, Bluetec, which the company first unveiled early this year, and is using in its E-Class sedan. As part of the deal, the power train technology will bear the Bluetec brand name regardless of the automaker using it.

Volkswagen, currently with the most diesel powered vehicles in its North American lineup, revealed the first beneficiary of the Bluetec engine this week: its first compact crossover SUV, the Tiguan, which goes on sale late next year.

Meanwhile, other automakers are launching limited edition vehicles of other kinds. Saab, for instance, debuted a series of limited edition cars marketing the automaker's 60th Anniversary. Cadillac unwrapped Platinum Edition XLR, STS and DTS cars. The versions are high-end variations on the V-Series performance sub-brand.

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