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2010 Paris Auto Show: Think Small, Act Fast, Go Blue Page 2

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2010 Jaguar C-X75 Concept

The need for speed didn't single out Italian exotic makers, though. The production-minded Lotus Elite gets power the old-fashioned way, from a big V-8 engine purchased from Lexus, inserted into a striking, but also derivative shape. BMW's big two-door, the 6-Series Coupe, already makes astonishing power in its current form--and a twin-turbo V-8 is likely under the hood of the lightly veiled "concept."

Go blue

Above all, the Paris show proved that electric cars and plug-in hybrids are coming to car buyers around the world, and soon--and with no guarantees of sales success. The Expo floor was festooned with electric and hybrid supercars, from all corners of the car industry. Lotus introduced no fewer than six cars, most of which offered some sort of hybrid or plug-in electrified powerplants, helped along with a technical cooperation with Toyota.

A pair of French exotics, the Citroen Survolt and the Renault DeZir, crossed streams at exactly the same "blue" target. In automotive terms, "green" is about improving emissions; "blue" is about removing them entirely from the equation with electric power. The DeZir sported the usual gullwings and racy red paint, but also an EV drivetrain that leverages the company's big plans for electric cars with Nissan--as in the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the Renault Fluence EV sedan. The Survolt? It's more a motorsports concept car with the same blue promises--not to mention an en garde name that implies Citroen thinks it can teach GM a thing or two about electrifying drivers. And audiences.

No doubt, the stunner of the Paris show combined blue power with raw power, and an arresting sense of style. Beautifully detailed in aluminum, chrome and brown leather, the Jaguar C-X75 concept celebrates the marque's 75th year in business, and casts it with a new mission. It's an electric car with 68 miles of driving range; it's a range-extended EV like the Chevy Volt, with its pair of microturbines that generate new power for the lithium-ion batteries when they're tapped out. And it's an exotic in every other sense of the word, with its 200-mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds.

It just could dispel the notion of dull, short-lived EVs forever. That would make history--just as this year's Paris show seems to have done.


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