The 65th annual Washington Auto Show showcased seven hundred makes and models of vehicles from more than forty-two domestic and import manufacturers, making the event a major destination for all motor enthusiasts. The Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association (WANADA) pulled out all the stops and provided hundreds of thousands of visitors the opportunity to experience new breakthroughs in the automotive industry first hand, with alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles taking center stage.
A main attraction for visitors to the show, which was held in Washington, D.C., was Toyota’s Highway to the Future Mobil Hybrid Experience display. Toyota offered an entertaining and educational experience as it demonstrated to the public its own advances in alternative fuel technology through interactive displays and “ride & drive” opportunities. Toyota’s Prius, Camry Hybrid, and Highlander Hybrid models were used to increase the public’s understanding of alternative fuel technology and the environmental benefits that come with operating these vehicles. Toyota’s Highway to the Future Mobile Hybrid Experience is scheduled to appear at more than 150 events nationwide. The Washington Auto Show was one of the display’s first stops on its eighteen-month tour.
Attendees were also welcomed to take a stroll down the Washington Auto Show’s “Environmental Alley,” where a number of newly-introduced hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles were showcased. The exhibit informed the public on the latest innovations in alternative fuels technology, in hopes than an individual’s next choice in a vehicle might be based on environmental benefits.
“The most important environmental decision consumers make, by far, is their choice and use of a car or light truck,” said Warren Leon, former deputy of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The 2007 Washington Auto Show hosted “International Media Day,” inviting hundreds of media members and leaders in the industry, including the NAFTC. The event introduced several new models, and special industry announcements were made to this specific audience. In his keynote address, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG and the Head of Mercedes Car Group, stressed the importance of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. During the address, Zetsche unveiled the new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500 and 3500 BlueTec pickup trucks. The pickup trucks, which will run on B5 and B20 biodiesel, will be available in dealerships in March. Owned by DaimlerChrysler, BlueTec represents the cleanest diesel vehicles in the world and meet emissions standards in all fifty states. BlueTec has been used in Mercedes-Benz light trucks and buses in Europe since 2005, and “they’ve performed exceptionally well in everyday heavy-duty service,” Zetsche said. Mercedes has introduced four new BlueTec passenger car and SUV models that will all be assembled at the company’s plant in Alabama.
In addition, Ford premiered its new HySeries Drive powertrain in a Ford Edge prototype. HySeries Drive is used in battery-powered, plug-in hybrids and features a hydrogen fuel cell that functions as an onboard charger. A total of 305 miles can be achieved on a full electric charge with the combination of the plug-in hybrid battery pack and the hydrogen-powered fuel cell. In a recent press release, Ford representatives commented that the new technology will reduce the size, weight, cost, and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50 percent.
The Washington Auto Show has become one of the world’s foremost automotive events, and as it makes every effort to spotlight alternative fuel technologies, it also serves as an excellent destination for leaders in the alternative fuel industry and the environmentally concerned.