Auto Makers Work Out Fuel-Efficiency Game Plans

Most auto makers have said they consider the shift toward small cars to be more or less a permanent change in the overall mix of vehicles customers want.

Published: 19-Aug-2008

Auto makers are angling to carve out their own niches in fuel-efficient design, from expansion of the gasoline-electric hybrid technology already available in the Toyota Prius to the new plug-in hybrid vehicle known as the Volt under development by General Motors Corp.

Hot off its success with its Prius sedan, Toyota Motor Co. said Friday that it would make hybrid engine systems available on all of its models by 2020. Ford Motor Co., which has few hybrid options among its vehicles, plans to double its hybrid-vehicle lineup and production next year.

And Honda Motor Co. said last week at an industry conference in Traverse City, Mich., that in 2009, it will import a new hybrid to compete directly against the Prius in the U.S. market -- and at a lower price.

The Chevrolet Volt still is scheduled to go on sale in 2010, and its chief designer, Bob Boniface, gave the Center for Automotive Research's management briefings seminars an early look at the most recent styling changes adopted to create a sleeker front end and to extend its range on battery power through better aerodynamics.

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