On the "green trail" at Baltimore auto show

There's a noticeable if not exactly wow-inducing green streak at this year's Motor Trend International Auto Show at the Baltimore Convention Center downtown.

You won't see the electric Chevy Volt displayed at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, the Nissan Leaf or any of the new plug-in hybrids promised by the car makers. But there are plenty of familiar hybrids and more fuel-efficient autos and SUVs to look at - all handily labeled with green arrows, to help you spot them in the crowd of vehicles on the convention center floor.

The show's "green trail" runs past Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Mercury and Toyota.


One of the new models at this year's show isn't a hybrid at all, but it gets hybrid-like mileage. Ford is unveiling the Fiesta, an extreme makeover for a small economy car that's been on the roads in Europe for years. This version boasts a 119-horsepower, 1.6 liter engine, and it gets 30 miles per gallon in the city and up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway. The one on display is a bright green hatchback, like the one pictured above from the Detroit auto show last month.

Green it may be, but it also comes with leather upholstery, keyless entry and oodles of electronics. Plus, it's "zippy" to drive, says Paul Anderson, Ford's small vehicle marketing manager.


"The whole idea behind this car, particularly in the US, is to change the mindset around the small car, that it has to be an econo-box," Anderson explains. It's aimed squarely at competing with Honda and Toyota, two brands that have a strong hold on the economy car market. With MSRPs from about $13,000 to $17,000, it's due in dealerships by summer.

For the more business-minded, Ford also brought one of its boxy Transit Connect vans to show. The one on display runs on gasoline, but the auto maker has pledged to offer an all-electric version by year's end.   So you can at least check out its lines here.

Among the hybrids on display were Toyota's Prius, Camry and Highlander, Honda's Insight, ?Chevy's Tahoe and Ford's Fusion and Escape.  (Full disclosure, our familiy owns a Ford and two Toyota cars - one with a recent recall.)  There also was a hybrid diesel bus there, courtesy of the Maryland Transit Administration, which is putting up to 100 of them on the streets this year.

For all that, we may have missed a few alt-fuel vehicles in our quick walk-through. We definitely missed the SUV-looking wheels outside in the convention center driveway with "Fuel Cell" printed on the door - just spotted it as we drove away. Please feel free to report what it was or any other green vehicles we overlooked.

The show got a delayed start because of this week's snowstorm, but it runs Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  For admission prices and other info, go to

(Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)