Detroit Auto Show: 5 Automakers to Watch

The North American International Auto Show will go light on the glitz and gas guzzlers this year, as exhibitors (two of them fresh from a bailout) seek to demonstrate efficiency, innovation and frugality. Even SUVs — most notably the 30-mpg-highway 2010 Chevy Equinox — are sporting improved fuel economy. With at least seven manufacturers, including Nissan Motor Co. (s nsany) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., opting out of corporate representation at the Detroit event, smaller startups and new green concepts from established automakers just might steal the show. We’ll be watching to see how these five electric and hybrid vehicle exhibitors perform in the spotlight:

BYD Auto: Chinese battery company BYD made its North American debut at the 2008 Detroit show with its H6 DM hybrid. Over the last year, BYD has entered the green auto race in earnest, thanks in part to a $230 million investment from Warren Buffett, the launch of a plug-in hybrid (the F3DM) earlier this month, and plans to roll out an all-electric car, the e6 (pictured below) in 2009.
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Electrovaya Scores Chinese Electric Car Deals

While the financial turmoil has put a damper on some electric car companies’ plans, Mississauga, Ontario-based Electrovaya, which makes battery systems for hybrid and electric vehicles, has been making some notable moves lately. The company said yesterday it had signed three deals with vehicle and equipment manufacturers in China, including Chana International, Shifeng Group and Lange Electric Equipment. These contracts could bring some of the first Chinese electric vehicles to the North American market.
With the U.S. topping the ranks as the world’s largest vehicle market, North America is a hot target for the growing Chinese auto industry. Chinese automaker BYD, which recently took in a cash infusion from Warren Buffett, has said in the past that it’s interested in the U.S. market, but car maker Chana may beat it to the punch. Read More about Electrovaya Scores Chinese Electric Car Deals

Buffett Charges Into Batteries, Electric Cars With BYD

Warren Buffett continues to stock up on energy bets. Earlier this month a subsidiary of Buffett’s investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, agreed to acquire Constellation Energy, and this weekend it came out that MidAmerican plans to spend $230 million to buy 10 percent of BYD, a Chinese firm that makes next-generation batteries, electric cars and consumer electronics parts.

MidAmerican’s investment was reportedly to support BYD’s green technology investments. BYD is supposed to start selling its electric vehicles in China this year and in Europe by 2010. The news caused a jump in the shares of BYD subsidiary, BYD Electronic, which makes cell phones parts.

MidAmerican and BYD are supposed to have a news conference on Monday and provide more details. Given Buffett is widely regarded as one of the best investors of our time, we’re hoping to see a lot more alternative energy bets in the future.

Earth2Tech’s EcoTour of Google Earth

[qi:_earth2tech] Google Earth’s bird’s-eye view of the globe is being used by environmentalists, concerned citizens, and yes, eco-bloggers, to map the effects of climate change, tag renewable energy plants, and point out environmental degradations of the land. Scientists, such as Dr. Jon Blower from the University of Reading, even use Google Earth to visualize multiple scientific geo-data sets, which can lead to new conclusions. Continue Reading.

Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 (Wii)

Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 for Wii (also on 360, PS3, others) is the tenth iteration of EA’s current yearly golf game. But other than minor changes like analog thumstick swinging, the series’ controls have largely remained the same until now. So does the Wii version live up to its motion-sensing ambitions? EA’s “How does it feel?” living room commercial is clearly positioning the game for broader audience, but does the title ultimately encourage golfing non-gamers to buy the game? Or, better yet (for Nintendo), buy a Wii? Continue reading for our thoughts, review, and analysis.

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