Posted by James Bell, Intellichoice.com
So far, the two most intriguing and worthwhile debuts of 2007 Detroit Auto Show have been vehicles that we will never drive in their current guise. Both need further development and in one case, advanced battery technology. But the point is that they are here and exist within the halls and imaginations of two of the most aggressive OEMs in the U.S. market.
One is from Toyota - not a big surprise.
The other is from GM - surprised?
The Toyota FT-HS, pictured here, is what I have been waiting for. (HS stands for "Hybrid Sports") As owner of a 2004 and 2006 Prius, I understand the hybrid promise and have put my own money on these horses. But "engaging" is not the word I would use when describing the day-to-day driving experience. The FT-HS is projected to hit 60 MPH in less than 5 seconds and deliver 35 MPG.at a price very affordable to the common sports car enthusiast. A perfect hybrid evolution.
But the Chevrolet Volt is special. (See a picture, plus Edmunds.com's take on it, here in the blog.) Hard to imagine (and even harder to type) but based on we have seen thus far, GM has an upper-hand in the Hybrid stakes.
The Volt introduces us to an all-new powertrain concept named E-Flex, and it is an obvious 'slap-in-the-forehead' solution to our current and growing energy/security crisis.
Since the gas engine is used 100% as a generator and never as a direct source of propulsion, the Volt of the future could deliver a theoretical range of 640 miles per small tank. And hit 60 MPH in a bit over 8 seconds.
But most impressively, if the future driver uses the plug-in feature and recharges for all trips less than 40 miles, the engine would never even need to fire up. Mile upon mile without a visit to the gas station. And that is revolutionary.
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