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Auto firms line up electric cars to bright mood at Detroit auto show
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14:39, January 14, 2009

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General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC, kept in business by 17.4 billion U.S. dollars in emergency loans, are showing off electric vehicles at the Detroit auto show that stretch the limits of current technology.

Chrysler is forecasting sales of electric cars exceeding 100,000 a year by 2013 and GM is counting on selling 60,000 of its first electric car shortly after it goes on sale in 2010.

"If you're going to be around, this is the type of thing you have to do," said Michelle Krebs, senior editor of consumer research company Edmunds.com.

GM and Chrysler aren't alone in their electric ambitions. Ford Motor Co. announced plans for an electric car on Jan 11 at the North American International Auto Show and Toyota Motor Corp is readying a tiny urban commuter for sale in 2012. Even Chinese automaker BYD Co, which currently doesn't sell cars in the US, has plans for plug-in vehicles in the market in 2011.

GM and Chrysler are banking on electrics for viability in 2010 and beyond.

General Motors Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn (L) shows the Volt vehicle to U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) at the American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2009

Meanwhile, the world leader in today's hybrid-powered vehicles, Toyota, has said it's not sure how many consumers in the US would actually buy a pure electric car. Its plans for electric vehicles are much more modest than GM's or Chrysler's.

A plug is seen coming from the Chevrolet Volt electric car during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2009.

Gas-electric hybrids and other electric vehicles made up 2.2 percent of the US market in 2007, according to JD Power and Associates, which expects that share to grow to 7 percent by 2015.

GM announced on Monday that LG Chem Ltd of South Korea would provide the batteries for its Chevrolet Volt, a so-called range-extended plug-in electric car that can travel up to 40 miles on a charge before a gasoline-burning generator recharges the battery.

The automaker will build a plant in Michigan to make the car's almost 400-pound battery packs.

The plant is a "huge deal", said Rick Wagoner, chief executive officer of the Detroit-based automaker in an interview on Monday.

"This announcement today is important because it sets up the Volt getting into production in the time frame we talked about."

GM has said it will build an array of vehicles similar to the Volt while not committing to a specific second model. It showed a four-passenger Cadillac prototype called Converj on Jan 11 that uses the same power system as the Volt.


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