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The North American International Auto Show for 2008 followed the trend set a few years ago with manufacturers bringing a large selection of alternative fuel vehicles. Sadly much of it was still dead-on-arrival hydrogen hype, but more and more pure EVs and plug in hybrids were shown. For example, Toyota brought a plug in Prius which is a hint of the next generation Prius due out very soon. GM, Ford, Nissan, and most others all had plug in hybrid concepts and there were small manufacturers (many of which from China) showing battery EVs.
Turbocharging was something I noticed more and more. Manufacturers are finally realizing that a small displacement engine can be fuel efficient while offering the power people want when a turbocharger is used. Variable geometry, variable scroll and compound/sequential turbos were visible everywhere.
I was particularly drawn to the Mitsubishi booth as they showed both a mint '70s Galant GTO-R73X and a rally prepped Starion. While I'm not a huge Mitsubishi fan, they have always had some interesting cars (Galant GTO, Starion, 3000GT).
Honda showed their CRZ concept which was supposed to be an evolution of both the CRX and Insight. Honda says on their website that they hope to deliver a small sporting hybrid based on the CRZ in the near future. Could that mean a new Insight? Slap some rear wheel skirts on there and get to it!
And finally, Mazda. Sigh, Mazda. While the Mazda Furai is on all accounts an impressive vehicle, taking a 20B and calling it a "3 rotor Renesis" is not a good way to capture the hearts of rotary fans. There was virtually no rotary content this year save for the above Furai and a few RX-8s on display. Take a hint from Mitsubishi and bring in some RX-3s, 4s, maybe a REPU and a few RX-7s if you don't have any new stuff to display. Vintage rotary will get people excited!
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