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PHOTO CAPTION: Chrysler 200C EV is range-extended electric concept car.

Automakers Place Faith in Hybrids,Electric Cars

Hyper-efficient yet expensive and low-volume vehicles might seem like another industry misstep, but they could generate enough excitement to suggest a viable future for Detroit.

Published: 15-Jan-2009

Beaten down by a global recession and propped up by government money, American automakers will call out a vision of an electric-powered future during the next two days of the auto show in Detroit that's more about survival than sales.

Four of the world's largest automakers will either show new hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric models, as will smaller players such as China's BYD and start-ups Tesla Motors and Fisker. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC will show off new electric concept vehicles, while Ford Motor Co. will tout its trials of plug-in hybrid SUVs and plans for battery-powered vans and sedans.

Such models alone can't cure Detroit's massive financial ills, and touting hyper-efficient yet expensive and low-volume vehicles when nervous customers have turned toward cheaper alternatives -- when they shop at all -- might seem like another industry misstep.

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