One of the things the exit of Nissan did for this year’s North American International Auto Show was free up a bunch of exhibition space. A lot of companies that had been in the Cobo basement came up to the main floor, which left the basement open to become…
…the Enchanted Hybrid Forest!
You come down the escalator, and the first smell you get is mulch, an odd thing to smell in the iron grip of winter around these parts. And then you step around the corner, and there it is: A little test track winding through a grove of real trees, flowers, a fountain. In the pit area, a number of vehicles available for drives:
That’s a Ford Escape. Must be a prototype.
The Enchanted Hybrid Forest has everything but hemp-wearing fairies and magical squirrels. And, at the moment, drivers — the show’s just getting underway. More in a bit.
coozledad said on January 11, 2009 at 10:22 am
Does this mean when everyone has hybrids the earth will be landscaped by the people who invented putt-putt courses?
Makes you want to fire up your poncho.
beb said on January 11, 2009 at 10:43 am
Some one had presence of mind to see that this space could be used in a themed manner, to showcase one aspect of the car biz in a positive and memorable manner. I like that.
I thought the Ford Escape hybrid was already in production? I recall an article on the web some months back about a NYC initiative to use hybrid taxicabs. There was a list of how many of each different model of hybrid were in use or promised. The Escape was one of them. But maybe that number was for promised units once the cars are produced.
There are those who argue that hybrids aren’t the answer, that we should be developing cars that get high mileage just from gasoline or diesel engines. When an old Geo Metro could get 35 city / 50 highway without expensive batteries I think you are as “green” as any Prius. This past week I saw a report on TheOilDrum.com about a guy in England who’s trying to develop an 80 mpg 4-seater car. The secret to his design is making the car weigh around 500 pounds so it can be pushed around by a really tiny engine. The hard part will be convincing people that they can be save in such a small, light car — kind of the way people don’t trust the Smart Car to be smart.
Rana said on January 11, 2009 at 11:11 am
Three thoughts, before I dash out into the snow to grab a NYTimes before the church-goers leave services and buy them all up:
(1) “The Enchanted Hybrid Forest” is brilliant. I almost didn’t want to read further, because that summed it up so well.
(2) There’s an on-going joke about this place in our family – we’ve never been, in all the times we’ve driven by it, but it fascinates us – so I started cracking up as soon as I read that sentence.
(3) Is it a testiment to the cleanliness of the cars, or the venue’s air conditioning system, do you think, that they could conceive of letting cars be driven in a basement? I’d be worrying heavily about fumes and poisoning the customers.
Rana said on January 11, 2009 at 11:15 am
Also… there was an article sometime last month (in the NYT Magazine, perhaps?) about what we should be doing, car-efficiency-wise, is not to improve the upper limits of the existing efficient models. Rather, improving the mpg of vehicles like Suburbans and Hummers from 12 mpg to 18 or 20 would produce far greater benefit overall than trying to improve hybrids’ mpg from 35 to 40 or 50. Strange seeming math at first glance, but it makes more sense once you look at it. (It had something to do with degree of relative improvement, and looking at car efficiency collectively instead of individually.)
nancy said on January 11, 2009 at 11:19 am
The Escape Hybrid is in production, beb, but a plug-in version is not. And that, I think, is the answer to Rana’s question: I’m pretty sure everything in the basement is all-electric, so zero exhaust problem. Not sure, though.
MarkH said on January 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm
The Ford Escape has been in production since 2001, the hybrid version 4-banger since 2005. The Escape hybrid utilizes first-generation Toyota hybrid technology, the rights to which Ford purchased. The current Prius has Toyota’s third generation system.