Is this Detroit or Las Vegas? There was more than a hint of CES at the North American International Auto Show this year, as car makers scramble to justify their Government bail-out cash with fleets of high-tech and high-mileage new cars.
The march of the Japanese hybrids continues, with Toyota and Honda unveiling new 2010 models. The Honda Insight is basically an upgrade, adding a few mpg and a fun plant graphic on the in-car display that grows as the car is driven economically, avoiding sudden bursts of acceleration and braking.
Toyota's third-generation Prius is more exciting, with a larger (1.8-litre) petrol engine allowing it to crack the 50mpg barrier and a host of extras including: touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel; solar-powered ventilation; radar lane assist; and an optional parking monitor to overcome its famously poor rear visibility.
Both hybrids will offer a short range, low speed battery-only mode - while Chrysler's new Jeep Patriot EV hybrid can travel 40 miles on battery power alone. Topping that (with 50 mile battery range) is new manufacturer Fisker's stylish Karma sedan, which reportedly achieves a stunning 100mpg when its petrol engine kicks in.
Chrysler is also quick off the mark with a battery electric vehicle, the zero-emission Dodge Circuit EV. This all-electric sports car can reach 0-60mph in under five seconds and has a range of 'up to' 200 miles on a single charge.
Chrysler also showed a concept car called the 200C EV hybrid with a panoramic touchscreen replacing the entire dashboard, a 'techno leaf' tablet PC for passengers, Twitter-style social networking between vehicles, real-time weather displays, and 40-mile zero-emission range.
But America had better watch out - the Chinese are coming, and they're greener than ever. BYD Auto promised a F3DM plug-in hybrid sedan and an all-electric e6 five-seater in full production by 2011. The e6 uses BYD's new Fe battery that it says can be charged to 50 percent capacity in just 10 minutes, and has a fully-charged range of 250 miles.