World's automakers unveil their latest ideas for hastening climate change

Instead of showing a production model of the next-generation Prius hybrid, Toyota unveiled the Mirai fuel-cell sedan at the New York International Auto Show press preview today. Only 3,000 will be available in the U.S. from the last quarter of this year through 2017, a spokeswoman said.

The interior and exterior of the Mirai are underwhelming -- too reminiscent of the Camry. The electric-drive sedan will have a range of 300 miles on a fill-up of hydrogen.


Only a small fraction of the hundreds of vehicles on display at the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan can be considered environmentally friendly.

At today's press preview in the Javits Center, I saw a handful of purely electric cars, maybe a dozen gas-electric hybrids and Toyota's hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which is going on sale later this year in very limited numbers.

After all, the show is produced by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, not the Environmental Protection Agency.

At the opening press breakfast this morning, dealer association President Mark Schienberg emphasized that performance is the leading factor driving new-car sales -- followed by technology and fuel efficiency.

In other words, don't look for a great many new products later this year and in 2016 that are aimed at slowing climate change.

The show opens to the public on Friday.

The Toyota Mirai's electric motor (rated at 153 horsepower), fuel cells and hydrogen tank, front to rear. The midsize, four-passenger Mirai will have an MSRP of $57,500.

The Ford Focus Electric.

Volkswagen's all-electric e-Golf.

Mitsubishi's all-electric, hard-to-pronounce i-MiEV.

The low-slung BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car has an MSRP of $137,450, but that doesn't include treatments from a chiropractor.

The new Ford GT, reminiscent of the race car that won Le Mans from 1966 to 1969, is going on sale next year.

Mazda's new MX-5 Miata.

Lincoln unveiled a limousine-like Continental Concept, which is expected to be produced for the 2017 model year. The announcer said the car will have soft-closing doors, which reminded be of the Toto toilet seat.

Automobile writers packed one of the first press conferences of the day, for the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, which is being billed as finally competitive with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the scrappy midsize-sedan segment. A gas-electric hybrid version also will be available.
Platters of fruit and cheese were typical of the fare offered to members of the automotive media at the 115th edition of the New York International Auto Show. Subaru gave out box lunches with vegetable or turkey wraps. Espresso bars were common, but Porsche restricted its lounge to invitees holding a black card. In general, the automakers seem to be cutting back on food service compared to last year's press preview.

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