Electric Vehicle Highlights from the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Jan 14, 2015 03:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Cheap gas prices might have buyers less concerned about fuel economy, but automakers are still focusing on the electric future--something that was evident at the North American International Auto Show this week.

Experts are saying that 2015 will be a rough year for electric and hybrid vehicles thanks to a national average price on gas that is currently at $2.13 per gallon, the Detroit Free Press reported.

As crude oil prices fell last year, hybrid and electric car sales dropped 8.8 percent to 452,152, only reaching that meager number by dint of incentives that grew by more than $3,000 for hybrid cars and by more than $4,000 for electric cars.

While that outlook is a bit depressing for automakers, at least green cars got some spotlight in Detroit. Check out these electric and hybrid titles that carmakers showed off this week.

Chevrolet Volt

The 2016 Chevy Volt redesign has an improved pure battery range of 50 miles, which compares with the original Volt's around 35-mile electric range. The new Voltec system is up to 12 percent more efficient and around 100 pounds lighter, according to General Motors. Since it launched in 2010, the Volt has seen disappointing sales.

Chevrolet Bolt

Besides the revamped Volt, Chevrolet showcased the Bolt EV Concept, a potential future vehicle offering more than 200 miles of battery range for only $30,000. Expected to reach production in 2017, the concept was hailed as a challenger to Tesla's Model S, which starts at around $70,000 and has an estimated 300-mile electric range.

Audi Q7

This luxury hybrid crossover has lost several hundred pounds in its redesign but basically sticks to format when it comes to Audi style. The Q7 e-tron has been touted as Audi's first diesel plug-in hybrid crossover with all-wheel drive.

Tesla Model S

Tesla didn't even launch a new car at the show, but that didn't keep CEO Elon Musk from making headlines when he spoke at NAIAS for the first time in two years.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered carmaker is working on the Tesla Model X, which has been delayed multiple times, and an affordable Model 3 electric car that is expected around the same time as the production Chevy Bolt.

"I think that's great. I hope to see a lot more of that," Musk said of the Bolt. "I don't see it as a competitive threat because I think all cars will go electric."

Volvo XC90

A seven-seater that is still environmentally friendly, the Volvo XC90 is equipped with a turbocharged 2-liter engine along with electric motors to net 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. 

Honda FCV Concept

Honda unveiled its zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered FCV Concept in Detroit, touting its targeted battery range of more than 300 miles and fueling time of less than five minutes. The automaker plans to launch a production FCV in Japan in March 2016, bringing it to the United States sometime after that.

Acura NSX

The 2016 Acura NSX runs on a twin-turbocharged DOHC V-6 engine paired with a nine-speed dual clutch transmission and three electric motors, one for each front wheel as well as a third placed with the mid-mounted engine. It has an aluminum frame and uses lightweight steels and carbon fiber for greater efficiency.

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