The big auto show in Detroit is now open to reporters so the big announcements and the hoopla have begun. There are moves toward greener cars, and there are moves to just make more money. Sometimes these are in direct conflict. Here are a few of my favorite things...so far.
GM is putting some of its capital into a start-up that wants to turn garbage into biofuel. The company is called Coskata. It's based in Illinois but named after a New England wildlife refuge. Go figure. Guess Kankakee or Cahokia just didn't seem as marketable?
Coskata will not use food products like corn so they avoid at least one major problem with some biofuels. However, they'll use lumber milling by-products. How tempting is that to the logging industry? Coskata hopes to be in commercial production by 2011. Here's a good analysis of the company's plans and hurdles.
How green can the auto industry appear? Newsweek has a clos elook at what's being said and what's reality. They do have one great zinger I wish I'd written. This auto show is acting so green it could be renamed "Detroit Lawn and Garden Show."
I blogged last summer about how new versions of diesel fuel are cleaner and more efficient than old-fashioned gasoline. Europe already has a passenger vhicle fleet that is about half diesel-powered saving fuel and money. Now the move is afoot to try to convert stubborn American car buyers to try new-fangled diesel. Mercedes is one diesel manufacturer making that effort.
Not all is new tech in Detroit, of course. Dodge is trying to revive sales of its Ram pick-up line. Pick-up sales in general are hurting in America because of gas prices and the drop in the housing market which means folks feel a little less confident in borrowing huge chunks to buy a new gas hawg.
Detroit is the first big and most important auto show of the year so there'll likely be more news on alternative fuels, new green vehicles and the hopes and dreams of auto CEOs before this week is over.
Here's a list of exhibitors at the Detroit Show. Includes the folks from the X Prize Foundation. But no Tesla and no Tata. Tata's the little Indian car that hopes to do for passenger cars what the little Honda motorbike once did for two-wheelers. But, as CNET reported,
the Tata did not get a universally warm welcome or maybe it was too warm as the flames of protest indicate.