Market Snapshot

Fuel Efficiency and Green Emerge as Key Themes of Auto Show Season

  Chevy Cruze
  The Chevy Cruze offers a fuel-efficient 1.4L turbocharged Ecotec engine.
Auto show season is in full swing. From the SEMA Show in early November, through the San Francisco, Los Angeles and upcoming Detroit events, automakers are bringing out their latest production and concept products for both media and consumer consumption. And the theme early on is fuel efficiency and green technologies.

The focus of the keynote speech from GM’s Bob Lutz at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show was on the company’s commitment to improved fuel efficiency and green technologies. And GM isn’t limiting its position solely to its production cars; at the 2009 SEMA Show, the company introduced a line of crate engines that are intended to meet California emissions compliance requirements.

GM’s current emphasis is on fewer and better vehicles. The company recently opened a new technology center in Brazil to study biofuels and is actively working on a variety of alt-fuel projects including hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles; electrically powered vehicles like the Volt; and lithium-ion battery technologies.

Ford Fiesta
Ford is hoping the formula that has worked well for its Fiesta in Europe finds success in the United States.  

According to the company, the Volt will first be available in California. Simultaneous to its sale to the public, GM will also give a fleet of more than 100 Volts to California utility companies and agencies to study the best methods for battery recharging.

Starting in 2011, GM will produce around 8,000 Volts, and full capacity is expected to reach 50,000–60,000 per year. The Volt’s batteries are expected to have a 10-year/100,000-mile life.

Other notable debuts included the Chevrolet Cruze and its 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine, the Ford Fiesta and the redesigned Mustang. Volkswagen’s Up! Lite concept, meanwhile, uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to achieve a stated 70 mpg city/highway combined. Its traditional side mirrors are replaced with digital cameras, aiding aerodynamics, and the front air intake under the front grille that opens only when needed.

  Mustang V6
  The auto show season isn't all fuel savings and green. The new Mustang, for example, offers a 45% horsepower increase from its predecessor.

The emphasis on fuel efficiency and green technologies means good news and opportunity for SEMA member companies. As evidenced by the companies and innovators that displayed in the 2009 SEMA Show’s Making Green Cool Zone, there is room to both refine existing platforms, such as the internal combustion gasoline engine, and forge new products from alternative fuels and energy sources.

“The future of vehicle electrification is fusing with the golden age of the internal combustion engine and innovations such as Ford’s EcoBoost” said John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology. “That spells opportunity for SEMA companies, new players and start-ups with cost-effective, low-volume production business models with democratized technology for new, used and retrofit vehicles.”

Source: SEMA Market Research