Green is the theme at this year’s Detroit Motor Show which is opening in unseasonably warm weather in the northern US, underlining the fact that perhaps global warming is something worry about. There are still plenty of high-horsepower hefty motors on the stands, but the crisis-mired US manufacturers have various environmentally friendly options and concept cars on show.
The extent of the companies’ problems can be seen from the sales figures: General Motors sold four million cars there last year, down 8.8%, Ford sold 2.7 million, down 8% and Chrysler sold 2.1 million, down 7%. Toyota – well known for its petrol-electric hybrid car the Prius – by contrast saw its US sales soar 12.9%last year.
Also enjoying record sales is the top end of the market. Rolls Royce, which unveiled a new Drophead Coupe – costing over 400,000 euros – sold 800 cars last year. Rolls Royce boss Ian Robertson said many of them went to Asia: “If we look at our markets around the world in 2006, the United States remained the largest market, the United Kingdom grew substantially in its number two position, but Asia was strategically very important to us and in fact China overtook Japan to become the third largest market last year with sales up 60%.”
More than 50 new vehicles are being introduced at the Detroit Motor Show with European manufacturers well represented. Having seen the success of BMW’s Mini in the US, Mercedes is even planning to sell the latest version of the Smart two-seater city car there from 2008.