New York Auto Show 2008 blog | CAR Magazine

New York Auto Show 2008 blog

Published: 21 March 2008 Updated: 26 January 2015

In the early 1970s, muscle cars hit the wall of emissions regulations and disappeared for decades. At the New York Auto Show, there was a sense of déjà vu. Dodge had its Challengers, Pontiac launched its G8 GXP and Sport Truck and Chevrolet, although still waiting for the Camaro had the Corvette ZR1. Then there was Saleen with its red hot Mustangs and Raptor supercar concept.

Within the same halls, everyone was talking hybrids, plug-in hybrids and range-extended electric vehicles. Nissan and Mitsubishi are planning to give us small electric cars for city commuters. GM’s Volt is close to becoming a production vehicle.

At the launch of the G8 Sport Truck, Bob Lutz said that by 2020 80 percent of all cars in the US would need to have some kind of hybridization to meet tightening CAFÉ standards. He was furious with Hillary Clinton for saying she would raise the figure to 50mpg, saying ‘We are coming to a point beyond what is possible.’ As it is, Lutz said many large trucks and SUVs would have to ‘go away’.

Back in the ‘70s the impositions of emissions controls was an unpleasant shock and resulted in some truly awful vehicles, but it’s not like that this time.

The new generation of green vehicles displays some truly ingenious technology, and fun is still very much on the menu – even the Raptor runs on E85. Rather than being a repetition of 30 years back, it’s more like 100 years ago when cars were powered by electricity and steam as well as petrol. Petrol won out that time because it was cheap. This time, as then, we don’t know which technology will win: ethanol? Fuel cells? Biodiesel made from algae oil? It will probably be a mix of everything, but this is a great time to be working in the car industry.