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PHOTO CAPTION: Preproduction 2010 Toyota Prius

2009 Seen as Breakout Year for Hybrids

Fuel efficiency seen as the unofficial theme of the 2009 North American International Auto Show.

Published: 26-Dec-2008

With Toyota Motor Corp. set to debut a concept version of a battery-powered electric vehicle and a slew of new hybrids slated to be unveiled, it's becoming clearer this year's show will be less about sexy designs and powerful 16-cylinder engines.

"I think every manufacturer is embracing the need for fuel efficiency," said Joe Serra, senior cochairman of the auto show. "I think the theme is going to be efficiency this year."

Serra said auto show organizers are close to announcing the addition of a central place where all manufacturers can display vehicles and information about their hybrid and electric vehicle programs.

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The A-BAT concept vehicle is equipped with Hybrid Synergy Drive, Toyota's third-generation gasoline-electric hybrid power-train technology.

For more than 20 years, Porsche has paid annual fines totaling $57 million for failing to meet the federal corporate average fuel economy standard. In 2006, it was fined $3 million for its fuel-thirsty Cayenne and $1.6 million for its cars.

The 2009 model will be the first small SUV to use the powerful new hybrid system GM recently unveiled in its large SUVs and pickups.

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