At a glance
VIA vows to honor electric car potential
DETROIT — Past met present at the North American International Auto Show Monday when a holographic image of Thomas Edison was used to promote vehicles from electric truck and van maker VIA Motors. Bob Lutz, the retired General Motors executive who led development of the Chevy Volt, took to the stage to listen as a hologram of a person portraying the inventor gave advice about the potential for electric vehicles. “Thank you very much, Mr. Edison, and I assure you we will not let you down,” Lutz told the image. The talk with Edison followed a trapeze performance above the exhibit floor featuring two scantily clad women that was received by applause. Such an attention-grabbing presentation isn't a first for Lutz at the show. In 1992, the then-Chrysler chief drove the new Jeep Grand Cherokee through a plate-glass window.
Nissan lowers price on Leaf
DETROIT — Nissan is lowering the price of its Leaf electric car to try to boost anemic sales. The 2013 Leaf will start at $28,800, or $6,000 lower than the previous model, company executives said Monday at the auto show. When combined with the federal electric-vehicle tax credit of $7,500 and other state and local tax incentives, the price could fall as low as $18,800 in California. That would be comparable to gas-powered and hybrid cars of its size such as the Toyota Prius and far lower than the electric Ford Focus or Chevrolet Volt, which start around $39,000. The 2013 Leaf goes on sale in February. GM North American President Mark Reuss said he doesn't expect his company to match Nissan's price cut on the Volt.
Honda previews smaller SUV
DETROIT — After scoring a hit with its CR-V compact SUV, Honda on Monday offered a glimpse at what the automaker's even smaller SUV might look like when it hits streets. The “Urban SUV Concept” made its debut during press previews at the North American International Auto Show. Honda Motor Co. plans to launch a small SUV based on that concept vehicle in Japan by year's end and in the U.S. in 2014. The concept SUV is 9 inches shorter than the CR-V, and hidden rear door handles give it a smooth, coupe-like presence. When it goes on sale in the U.S., it's expected to be priced below the existing CR-V, which starts around $22,700 for a 2013 model.
Jeep eyes growing China market
DETROIT — Chrysler's Jeep brand is in talks to build some vehicles in China to capitalize on growing interest in its SUVs among Chinese drivers, the company's chief executive said Monday. Jeep sells several models in China, including the Grand Cherokee, Wrangler and Compass. President and CEO Mike Manley said any production in China would be “relatively incremental.” “The home of Jeep is in the U.S. It's always going to be in the U.S. for us,” Manley said after unveiling the 2014 Grand Cherokee at the international auto show. “So we're very careful about what models we think we're going to build elsewhere.” Chrysler LLC is owned by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA.