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Automotive News – January 13, 2011

The North American International Auto Show opens in Detroit. AutoWeek names its “Best of the Best” for 2011. Toyota looks to power cars with laptop batteries. These and other stories of interest in this week’s Automotive News.

North American International Auto Show Stats

North American International Auto ShowThe 23rd annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opened at Detroit’s COBO Center on January 11 and is scheduled to run until January 23rd. Arguably the top auto show in the U.S., the 2011 NAIAS has equally impressive statistics to share. For example:

  • Total No. of Cars on Display: 500+
  • Brands Represented: 40+
  • Total Vehicle Introductions – 35+
  • Media Credentials Issued – 5,000+
  • Public Show Attendance – 710,000 (Projected)

NAIAS Names Chevy Volt the 2011 Car of the Year

Chevy VoltOne of the North American International Auto Show’s first orders of business was to name its “Car of the Year.” For 2011, that honor went to the Chevy Volt, the all-electric sedan that is just now being introduced to the North American market. The Volt has already won Car of the Year from Motor Trend magazine as well as the 2011 Green Car of the Year award.

AutoWeek Names Cadillac CTS-V Coup and Jeep Grand Cherokee its Best of the Best

2011 Cadillac GTSAutoWeek magazine has named its editors’ picks for the best car and truck for the 2011 model year. Its choices: The Cadillac CTS-V Coupe (car) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee (truck). About the Caddy CTS-V, one editor said, “I think it might just be one of the best, perhaps the best, potluck recipes on the market: one part good handling, one part drag-strip-launching fool, one part high-speed highway-mile eater.” As for the Grand Cherokee, the magazine said, “Perhaps no single vehicle symbolizes the reborn Chrysler more than this off-roader. It’s capable, it builds on the long-held strength of the iconic brand, and in a new twist, it’s downright luxurious.”

Toyota Likes Tesla EV Batteries

Toyota RAV4 EVRather than investing millions to develop cheaper EV batteries, Toyota’s top engineers have expressed a preference for the strategy developed by Tesla Motors for its electric vehicles: just strap together thousands of small lithium-ion laptop computer power cells. Because laptop batteries are produced in vast quantities, their per-unit cost is relatively low. Using them in electric cars can reduce engine costs by as much as two-thirds, according to Toyota spokesmen. Toyota is partnering with Tesla to produce a new all-electric RAV4.

Honda to Sell CNG Civic in 2011

Honda Civic CNGHondo Motor Co. has announced plans to sell a new Civic sedan powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in all 50 states starting later this year. Until now, it has only sold its natural gas-powered Civics in limited numbers, mostly to government fleets. The good news is that natural gas-burning engines produced lower emissions that conventional internal combustion engines, and virtually all commercial grade natural gas is produced here in the United States. The bad news: There are only about 1,000 natural gas fueling stations in the U.S. More fueling locations are critical to the natural gas-burning Civic’s long-term success.

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