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LA Auto Show: Green cars grabbing attention

November 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The L.A. Auto Show is always a rainbow of colors, but one that tends to stand out is green. Not necessarily in paint jobs, but in terms of conserving resources.

Lots of people in this area seem to want to try electrics, for example.

"California is the No. 1 market in the U.S. for EVs," said Cristi Landy with General Motors. "Over 30 percent of the Volts are sold in California today. Customers here embrace the technology and the infrastructure is here."

The Chevy Spark EV is just one of the small electrics getting attention. Another is equally small and equally free of internal combustion: the Fiat 500e.

"A lot of people are trying to sell an electric car as an electric car," said Tim Kuniskis with Fiat North America. "We're not doing that. We're selling you a Fiat 500 that is everything that a Fiat 500 is. Oh yeah, it happens to have a revolutionary electric powertrain."

One of these could be named green car of the year next year when they're on sale, but this year, the 2013 Ford Fusion took the title.

"You want vehicles that speak to you, that make a statement about what it is you're driving," said Ron Cogan with the Green Car Journal. "You're spending every day with this thing so it might as well b something that you like."

One of the reasons the Fusion was chosen as Green Car of the Year is because it's available so many different ways -- as a regular four-cylinder gasoline-powered car that will get pretty good mileage, as a gas-electric hybrid that will get much better mileage and as a gas-electric plug in hybrid that will go up to 20 miles on electricity alone.

Still, not every auto maker is necessarily convinced that plugging in is the way to go.

By this summer, Mazda will have a fuel efficient diesel vehicle in showrooms, the Mazda6.

But one diesel? That's nothing, says Audi. They'll have a total of six.

"You get in essence 30 percent fuel economy saving with driving a diesel, absolutely no behavioral change at all. It's technology that's ready to go," said Scott Keogh with Audi USA.

And there are lots more diesel pumps out there than charging stations, so far. Still, there is no shortage of cars at the show that plug too. Lots of choices, different ways to save fuel and lots of different definitions of what green is.


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