Saturday, January 14, 2006


TOYOTA PONDERS A POWER/ECONOMY SWITCH FOR HYBRIDS. Toyota Motor Corp. is studying technology that would equip drivers of hybrid vehicles with a switch that enables them to shift between “green” and “power” performance settings, reports The Wall Street Journal. Jim Press, president of Toyota’s U.S. sales operations, says the concept would enable the company to address criticism that it’s fuel-sipping Prius hybrid is too lethargic but its RX400h SUV hybrid is too performance-oriented. The system would allow drivers to maximize fuel economy or, in the words of another Toyota executive, “drive the wheels off” whenever they want a surge of power.

OEMs PUSH HYBRIDS, CROSSOVERS AT DETROIT SHOW. Automakers are using this week’s pre-show media events at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to trumpet a bevy of vehicles aimed at the U.S. market’s two hottest segments: hybrids and crossovers. General Motors, Nissan and Toyota are among those adding hybrid vehicles or expanding their hybrid lineups this year. Other OEMs—including BMW, Hyundai, Subaru and Volkswagen—either plan to add hybrids a few years from now or are showing concept hybrids at the show. Companies touting new crossover vehicles—trucklike models that ride on carlike platforms—in either production or concept form include Acura, Buick, Ford, General Motors, Jeep, Lincoln and Mazda.

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