Press day at the Los Angeles motor show yesterday was yet another about going green – or at least, the promise of such things. If the three American domestic makers realise the goals they announced, then this 2007 LA show could be a landmark - though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you strode around the emptying halls in the afternoon.But while the American big three were in large part about the promise or the introduction of new models with known green technology, such as hybrids, Honda was embarking on a real eco-revolution with the announcement of a production version of its zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell Honda FCX Clarity saloon.Few will be built, and they are all to be leased on three-year deals to selected customers, but this is a major achievement. So exactly how many will be built? Honda wasn’t saying. It’s likely to keep numbers very limited for cost reasons, and reports of a run of a just one hundred have been rumoured. However, that will still be 100 road-going fuel cell cars the world did not have before, and as such a milestone in the history of the car.
Ford CEO says ‘JLR’ sale ‘continues solidly’
Ford boss Alan Mulally, who rarely makes a public appearances or grants interviews, kicked off the day with a chatty, informal talk that was long on charm but short on hard facts – or space for questions from the floor.He was predictably bullish about the prospects of a very troubled Blue Oval, though there has been encouraging progress in the reduction of its losses, which are now a fraction of their rate a year ago. Indeed, Mulally is predicting a profit for 2009. He also got revved up about the new Lincolns the company has coming, even suggesting that this domestic marque was generating models strong enough to provide the company with a premium global brand. So why not keep Jaguar and Land Rover, wondered the assembled British hacks, fine global premium brands both. There was little new on the sale of these marques, other than confirmation that the sale process was advancing solidly. But perhaps Ford’s quieter approach to the announcement of ground-breaking green technologies is shrewder, given the broken promises we’ve witnessed from many manufacturers over the introduction of fuel cell cars. Like GM, Ford is hard at it on the development of plug-in fuel cell hybrids, but has made less noise about the when and where. It is also making much of the benefits of achieving small but real improvements in fuel economy across tens of thousands of the cars it sells, through weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and the roll-out of downsized, direct injection turbo engines. The new Lincoln MKS saloon, a mostly handsome beast – intriguingly, based on the old Volvo P2x S80 platform rather than the Mondeo hardware underpinning the latest S80 – is an example with its new direct injection turbo V6, claimed to offer the power of a V8.