SEATTLE -- American auto makers are out to prove they can make the kind of vehicles people are demanding in times of a tough economy and high gasoline prices.
Ford rolled out its new Fusion Hybrid in Seattle Tuesday.It alsosent along its Director of Sustainability Technologies, Nancy Gioia, to discuss Ford's near, medium and long termplans.
Gioia vowed Ford is now fully engaged in Hybrid, electric and other energy saving technologies and plans to lead the industry. She touted the Fusion as the most fuel efficient mid-sized sedan in America.
"Up to 41 miles per gallon city, beating the Camry Hybrid by eight miles per gallon. I think we really set a benchmark," said Gioia.
It's no accident she mentioned the Camry. Ford has set its sights on reclaiming its place at the top of the auto heap. KING 5 car expert Tom Voelk thinks it may have done just that.
"I think a lot of people don't expect an American manufacturer can do a really good hybrid system but, I have to say, I drove this car for a full day and I'm really impressed," said Voelk.
General Motors teamed up with scooter-maker Segway to produce the Puma, which stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility. It's a two seat, two-wheeled electric buggy that tops out at 35 miles per hour, 35-miles-per-charge and 35 cents to recharge.
It's a much more radical downsize than the highly marketed Volt, Chevy's electric vehicle due out next year.
Chrysler is also introducing new plug in electric cars next year and says it may turn its entire fleet hybrid.
Plenty of small, independent manufacturers have been offering alternative energy cars, but many consumers have been waiting for the big three to join the movement. With cars like these, Ford and the entire American auto industry are saying that trend has begun and there is no turning back.
That sounds like an opportunity to some northwest government leaders.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire will get her own Fusion test drive, and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has been driving electric cars for the last two days and is openly trying to position his state as a home for the new wave of auto manufacturing.