A rosy green future

The motoring year begins in earnest as the world’s media gather in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.

Just as the city itself struggles with the aftermath of the boom years and looks to the future, the mood and the confidence of the manufacturers taking part is indicative of the prospects for the year ahead.

Yet the feeling on the show floor and the new products that have debuted suggest a climate that is very positive, if not completely rosy.

Arguably the star of the show was Porsche’s 918 RSR, a road racer that uses hybrid technology to offer even greater performance but with greater distances between fuel stops. Although the car on the stand is destined for the track, it points the way to an eventual production road car using the same technology.

From the home manufacturers, Ford had claimed the initiative by showing two hybrid versions of the recently-launched C-Max MPV. Both combine a combustion engine and electric power to give as much as 500 miles range and fuel economy in excess of 50mpg, while still delivering the practicality that is demanded by people-carrier buyers.

There were a smattering of performance cars too, but the clear message from Detroit was that car buyers will have an increasing amount of choice in terms of power source as well as body style, and this can only be a good thing.