FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 21, 2008
Detroit Auto Show plugs in next-generation cars
Alternative fuels and new engine technologies can be challenging to understand. Assign the class of future car-buyers to find recent articles about hybrid vehicles and discuss whether the language and explanations are clear to ordinary readers.
Auto companies use the Detroit show to pitch products. Start a discussion about whether the event deserves coverage as a news story. Ask students how journalists can keep reports from seeming like ads. Have them look for articles that do this well or not so well.
Coverage of new cars and the auto industry overall appears in various parts of the paper because it involves business, technology, the environment, lifestyle and pop culture. Challenge students to think of other topics that overlap categories in a similar way.
The latest vehicle designs and technology are on view at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a yearly showcase for the innovations by Asian, European and American manufacturers. More than 50 new vehicles being built or planned are displayed for the first time.
Amid concern about global warming and high gas prices, just about every company is pushing “green” vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen or a hybrid blend of fuels. Toyota and General Motors each pledge to offer plug-in hybrid vehicles that run primarily on electric power by 2010.
General Motors is showing three Saturn hybrid models that use batteries or plug-in electrical charges to supplement backup gasoline power. The company says its 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2-Mode Hybrid will travel 500 miles on one tank of gas. GM also is working on Hummer and Saab concept vehicles flex-fuel models able to run on either ethanol or regular gasoline.
Top executive says: "We're putting resources like crazy into [the plug-in Chevrolet Volt] and we haven't seen anything yet that says we've hit a glitch." -- Rick Wagoner, GM chairman and CEO
Designer says: "The environment is an absolutely sexy design trend. It wasn't a few years ago, but it is now." – J Mays, Ford global design chief
Editor says: "I drive a GMC Acadia. . . . You don't have to plug it in, fill it with liquefied corn or unnaturally squeeze a family of five into it. If I could power it with electricity or fuel it up with a truly green alternative that costs less at the pump but is at least as efficient as gasoline or emitted no pollution, I would." – Manny Lopez, Detroit News auto editor
Front Page Talking Points Archive