This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 14, 2004

Jeep Displays "Treo" Fuel-Cell Vehicle at Detroit Auto Show

Photo of Jeep Treo.

Jeep's Treo fuel cell vehicle.
Credit: Jeep

Jeep is providing a look at its fuel-cell-powered future with the U.S. premiere of its "Treo" concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Treo, which the company describes as an "urban-active Jeep," uses dual electric motors to power the four wheels. And like General Motor's "Hywire" concept, the Treo uses drive-by-wire controls, which allow the steering wheel, pedals, and instrument panel to be shifted from side to side for either right- or left-side driving. See the Treo page on the Jeep NAIAS Web site.

Although the NAIAS has been a showcase of future energy-saving cars in recent years, this year's show seems to be placing greater emphasis on high-performance "super cars." But despite their gas-guzzling engines, super cars often test out new energy-saving technologies. The V12 Chrysler ME Four-Twelve, for instance, features an all-aluminum engine mounted in a carbon-fiber and aluminum-honeycomb body, with carbon-fiber exterior body panels. Likewise, the V6 Acura HSC features carbon-fiber body panels over an all-aluminum body. And the V8 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren goes a step further, with a body constructed entirely out of carbon fiber. See the press releases from Chrysler, Acura, and Mercedes-Benz.

Automakers are also demonstrating that a variety of approaches can achieve high fuel efficiencies. The Dodge Sling Shot, a concept vehicle, uses a powerful 3-cylinder engine and a lightweight body to create a sports car that achieves 45 miles per gallon. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is exhibiting its E-Class sedan with an electronic-injection diesel engine that can achieve 30 miles per gallon of diesel fuel on the highway while meeting most states' emission standards. See the press releases from Dodge and Mercedes-Benz.

But will new "clean diesels" beat out hybrid technologies in the race for cleaner vehicles? A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says no. According to the UCS, gasoline engines can achieve fuel efficiency at a lower cost than advanced diesel engines. See the UCS press release, which links to the full report.