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Small is Beautiful in Frankfurt Page 2

2007 Volkswagen UP! Concept, Frankfurt Auto Show

Hybrid systems are all the rage, at least with manufacturers who hope to catch up with Toyota, with its popular Prius gasoline-electric hatchback. GM CEO Rick Wagoner noted that his company will have eight different hybrids on sale in the U.S. market this year, and European motorists can expect to see some here, as well. GM’s offerings will include the first of a new generation, dubbed Two-Mode hybrids. Where early hybrid such as the Prius work best in stop-and-go city traffic, Two-Mode technology – jointly developed by GM, Daimler, Chrysler and BMW -- promises to boost fuel economy on the open highway, as well.


But the real breakthrough could come in the form of plug-in hybrids, suggested Carl-Peter Forster, president of GM Europe, as he unveiled the Opel Flextreme concept. With its oversized lithium-ion battery pack, the prototype could go 30 miles on electric power alone, charging up either from a wall outlet or by running its small diesel motor as a generator. Similar to the Chevrolet Volt, shown at last January’s Detroit auto show, a version of Flextreme could hit showrooms early in the next decade.


Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, ethanol flex-fuel cars, virtually every alternative possible is on display in Frankfurt, reflecting a growing industry consensus summarized by GM’s Wagoner. “Sustained growth and profitability,” is going to depend on the recognition that it is “neither feasible nor optimal for our industry to rely only on oil.”

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2007 Frankfurt Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (9/10/2007)

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