Hyundai, others unveil new models in Detroit

Hyundai Blue Will
Hyundai Blue Will
Toyota FT-CH
Toyota FT-CH
Mercedes E-Class convertible
Mercedes E-Class convertible

Posted by: Mark Bullock - bio | email

DETROIT, MI (WSFA) - There are lots of Alabama auto execs in Detroit this week. Monday marked the opening of the North American International Auto Show. And the name of the game this year is fuel efficiency.

In Detroit this year, you can still find fast and flashy, and cars most of us can only dream about. But after a nightmare year for automakers, this year is more about turning the industry on its head.

Small is huge. And fuel efficiency is easy to find.

"As consumers go and make their purchase decisions, that still tops their list," said Ford's Mark Fields. "So we want to make sure that every vehicle we come out with has best-in-class fuel economy."

And for Ford, it seems to be working. The company's Fusion hybrid won car of the year. And the Ford Transit took home top truck honors.

Among car companies with plants in Alabama, Hyundai unveiled a new hybrid concept in Detroit called the Blue Will. Designed in South Korea, it boasts roof-mounted solar cells and new lithium polymer batteries. But it's unclear if the car will make it into production.

Toyota, also with a plant in Alabama, also unveiled a new hybrid concept -- the FT-CH, answering the call for a cheaper, smaller version of the popular Prius.

Finally, Mercedes, which manufacturers SUVs in Tuscaloosa County, unveiled a new convertible version of its E-Class sedan.

The focus of this year's auto show is clearly on the future, which manufacturers trying to turn the corner on a year that saw two of the big three in bankruptcy, and brands like Pontiac, Saab and Saturn say goodbye.

"This industry was about as low as it could get one year ago," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "And one year has made a difference."

The North American International Auto Show runs through January 24th. For more highlights of this year's event, log on to the auto show's web site.

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