Detroit Auto Show Day 2: Cheap EV Dreams, Dirty Cars and When Automakers Attack (Eek!)

The first day of the North American International Auto Show brought us the first glimpse of Toyota’s concept for a Prius family of hybrids, news of Ford’s plans for a major investment in electric vehicles and other goodies (highlighted for you with plenty of pics here). Today the annual event, taking place in Detroit, brings us a slew of fresh photos, promises, posturing and announcements (including one acquisition) from the likes of Tesla Motors, BYD Auto, Daimler, Dow Kokam and other companies. Below you’ll find highlights from Day 2 of the show.

Tesla’s Dirty Roadster & Elusive Gen-3 EV: Tesla Motors rolled an electric Roadster into the Cobo Center exhibit hall sporting grime from a cross-country road trip designed to promote the startup’s electric vehicle. The upcoming Model S sedan — which according to the Wheels blog is now slated for delivery in early 2012 (rather than 2011 as previously planned and as the Tesla web site still states) — also made an appearance. Tesla says the Model S at the show is one of two working prototypes and the first one displayed with a real interior.

In the company’s press conference today, Tesla CEO and Chairman Elon Musk said the startup will launch a long-promised $30,000 third-generation electric vehicle within five years, with a sales target of 200,000 units per year. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Daimler’s Attack Plan: Look out, BMW, Daimler’s fixing for a green fight. “We will attack this year definitely,” Daimler development chief Thomas Weber said in an interview with Bloomberg at the Detroit Auto Show today. “It pays off that we invested so much in green technologies…That’s part of our attack strategy.”

Daimler expects to spend half of its 4.4 billion euro (about $6.4 billion) research and development budget this year on tech for cleaner cars, and start-stop technology will become standard in Mercedes-Benz models in 2010 as the brand seeks to beat BMW in cutting vehicle emissions.

Dow Kokam’s Battery Pack Buy: Lithium-ion cell maker Dow Kokam announced today that it has acquired a French developer of batteries and energy management systems, Societe de Vehicles Electrique, or SVE. Despite this move into battery pack manufacturing, Dow says it will not only “continue to work in close collaboration with pack designers and producers” that are using Dow Kokam cells, but it also hopes increase the number of pack producers interested in its cells. Dow (which is sponsoring this year’s “Electric Avenue” section) claims it’s making history at the Detroit show by becoming the first non-automotive manufacturer to exhibit on the main floor.

BYD’s Plan for Global Domination: BYD reiterated plans today to launch its electric e6 in the U.S. during the second half of 2010. Chairman Wang Chuan-fu tells the Wall Street Journal it’s still figuring out how many of the five-seater cars it should import, at what price, and how it should distribute them. “There are [a] lot of things in the market that are pending,” he said. “In the beginning, we don’t think it will be a huge quantity.”

At this point Wang said “it is possible” the company will pursue partnerships with U.S. companies to help sell the vehicle. Here’s what BYD does know for sure: It wants global domination. The battery company turned automaker aims to become the world’s largest producer of autos by 2025.

Photos courtesy of the North American International Auto Show, Tesla Motors and Daimler