Frankfurt Auto Show Highlights Industry's Green Efforts

Frankfurt Auto Show Highlights Industry's Green Efforts

Small, fuel-sipping cars, high-tech electronics geared at improving efficiency rather than performance, and alternative-fuel vehicles dominated the International Auto Show that opened this week.

From Smart's ForTwo Micro Hybrid to Toyota's iQ concept car, small cars are big at the show. But even the automakers most known for powerful behemoths unveiled eco-friendly additions in Frankfurt.

DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetchshe said his company will begin production on a zero-emissions fuel cell Mercedes-Benz within three years, although it will have a smaller production run than its standard cars. Both BMW and Porsche showed off hybrid SUVs, BMW's X6 and Porsche's Cayenne. GM's Opel subsidiary unveiled the plug-in hybrid Flextreme, the European version of its Volt concept car announced in the U.S. earlier this year. Ford subsidiary Volvo also announced its ReCharge plug-in hybrid hatchback.

Car companies are not just embracing alternative fuels at this year's show; they're also using new technologies to reduce emissions even from traditional fuels. Volkswagen debuted five car models, including a new version of the Golf that uses VW's BlueMotion technology to reduce emissions. Ford's European division also offered a look at three cars under its new ECOnetic line. The cars use diesel engines and design with an eye toward the environment to bring CO2 emissions to low levels.

The green theme at this year's show was widely seen as a response to growing global concern about climate change, as well as the steadily rising price of gasoline, which this week hit a record $80.18 per barrel.

The International Auto Show in Frankfurt runs through Sept. 23.