2008 Los Angeles Auto Show: Who Brought The Most Green?

There’s many a way to measure an automaker’s green quotient, but we took a simple approach that didn’t require our technical editor to demonstrate his impressive differential equation skills. We simply walked through the exhibition halls, counting the number of green cars – hybrids, ER-EVs, alternative fuels, etc – and noting their manufacturer. Here’s what we counted.

It’s safe to say that, with no less than 26 examples present, hybrids all but dominated the L.A. show. American automakers offered up nine different examples, including the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, and the ill-fated 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids.
In contrast, Japanese automakers brought 11 hybrids to the show, though that count climbs to 12 if you count the Camry CNG Hybrid concept on Toyota’s stand (we count it as a CNG vehicle, as that’s how Toyota pitched it). Korea played a part in the hybrid game thanks to the introduction of the Hyundai Sonata Blue Drive, while the Europeans offered up only one example – the BMW 7-Series ActiveHybrid concept.
US: 9 Japan: 11 Europe: 1 Korea: 1
The tally for American hybrids does swell somewhat once you look at plug-in hybrids and/or extended-range electric vehicles. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt prototype was one of the few new offerings on the GM stand, while Chrysler offered up EREV prototypes of its Town & Country and Jeep Wrangler. As far as we saw, no plug-in models were displayed by any other automaker at the show.
US: 3 Japan: 0 Europe: 0 Korea: 0
Much as we like the advent of clean, powerful diesel technology, it seems to be favored only by the German automakers. All nine examples, including the new 2010 Volkswagen Touareg TDI, were presented by the Germans, with half that figure sourced from the Volkswagen Group’s portfolio.
US: 0 Japan: 0 Europe: 9 Korea: 0
As the show was held not far from the government-sponsored “Hydrogen Highway,” we expected to see more in the range of fuel cell vehicles than the three that actually attended. The Honda FCX Clarity, Kia Borrego FCEV prototype, and the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell models were all we found, though we did spot a hydrogen-powered Equinox cruise into an In-N-Out Burger off Sunset Boulevard…
US: 1 Japan: 1 Europe: 0 Korea: 1
We saw no Tesla Roadsters at the show, but we did catch a glimpse at the Dodge EV, an electric-powered coupe concept that, interestingly enough, is also built from a Lotus sports car. Though the EV represents what a future Chrysler sports car could resemble, the electric Mini E drew all the attention, as 500 examples will be leased to the public in the very near future.
US: 1 Japan: 0 Europe: 1 Korea: 0
CNG: 2
If one fuel had to be deemed a ‘loser’ at the show, it’d have to be compressed natural gas. Honda showed the Civic GX, which happened to be the only production CNG vehicle present. Toyota presented an interesting hypothesis with the Camry CNG Hybrid, but noted that a severely restricted infrastructure reduced its chances at seeing production.
US: 0 Japan: 2 Europe: 0 Korea: 0
We’re not sure we can answer that, but when it comes down to the number of alternative fuel vehicles present, we have a few figures. The U.S. automakers tied their Japanese counterparts, with each bringing 14 vehicles to their respective stands. European automakers came in third, with 11 alt-fuel cars to their name (most of which were diesel-powered), while the Korean companies offered only two ‘green’ vehicles for us to see.

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