Detroit Auto Show: The Future of Energy Efficient Cars and Trucks

From Christian Science Monitor

By David J. Unger

The Detroit auto show is rife with attention-grabbing displays, but they rarely involve time travel.

VIA Motors seemed to at the Detroit auto show Monday when it featured Thomas Edison – portrayed by an actor in holographic form – lending wisdom to Bob Lutz, retired General Motors executive and a driving force behind the Chevy Volt electric car.

“Now it’s your turn to share the light,” the projected electric light-bulb pioneer told Mr. Lutz in an exchange that preluded the unveiling of VIA’s latest line of converted-electric trucks, vans and SUVs.

The stunt underscored the automakers’ panache for head-turning displays, and hinted at the less-flashy innovations taking place under the hoods. The heart of the Detroit auto show may be automotive eye-candy, but some automakers highlighted new approaches to energy use in an industry that consumes a lot of it.

For VIA, fleet vehicles – those used as taxis, buses, and by large companies – were a target of energy savings. The company has developed an extended-range electric cargo van that it expects will achieve 100 miles per gallon with near zero emissions.

“By demonstrating that going green can also be good business, large fleets like Verizon‘s can have a significant influence on the direction of the auto industry and help accelerate the adoption of clean vehicles like VIA’s electric work vans,”  said Lutz, who is also a VIA board member, in a statement.

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