Hybrids, E85, diesel and fuel-cell vehicles took the spotlight during the press days of the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. Automakers stressed fuel-economy and alternative fuels during their press conferences, showing the public that “green vehicles” are more abundant and available than in years past. For example:
- Honda revealed its all-new FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle, which it plans to lease to qualified consumers in limited numbers next summer. Honda's new hydrogen-powered fuel-cell sedan is powered by the V Flow fuel stack, which is 65% smaller than its previous-generation fuel stack while producing 50% more power.
- General Motors plans to release 16 new Chevrolet hybrids over the next four years, starting with the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, Malibu and 2009 Silverado that were unveiled during its press conference. The automaker also stressed the importance of having a number of alternative fuel choices for different types of consumers, including seven E85 Flex-Fuel vehicles and the electric Volt concept.
- Toyota revealed its achievement in its ongoing hydrogen-hybrid fuel-cell development program, highlighting a recent 2,300-mile trek in a Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia, along the Alaska-Canadian (ALCAN) highway. Officials said the road test confirmed substantial progress in reliability and durability, cold-weather operation and extended range capability of the hybrid fuel-cell system.
- Chrysler drove its 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen Hybrids into the press-con pulling a boat and horse trailer, demonstrating hybrid towing capabilities. The automaker claims its fullsize SUVs can pull 6,000 lbs., deliver 385 hp and boast nearly 40% fuel-economy improvement in the city.
The specialty-equipment industry has already taken part in creating innovative products to boost fuel-economy and performance. Ford's F-450 Superduty Powerstroke diesel display vehicle was retrofitted with hydrogen tanks to enable it to run on a combination of pure biodiesel and hydrogen gas. This pickup, which was displayed at the 2007 SEMA Show, was also fitted with specialty-equipment parts, including a custom exhaust, lights, a lift kit and a tow winch, sending a message to the public that it is possible to combine the need for fuel economy and “greenness” with the desire for customization, function and utility. With all of the new hybrids being rolled into dealerships in the coming months, opportunities lie ahead for the specialty-equipment industry to develop custom parts that fit these vehicles, as well.
For more on OEM and specialty-equipment market integration, please visit www.sema.org/oem.