Big Three go green at auto show

January 24, 2009 4:49:38 PM PST
The financial crisis and credit crunch have folks keeping a close eye on their money, but car makers who are feeling the pinch are looking to bring in new customers. At the Houston Auto Show, car makers are making their pitches to rebound in the tough economy.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Every major manufacturer from Europe to Asia is being represented at Reliant Center. Cars in every price range for every appetite, but the makers who are especially anxious for browsers and buyers are the U.S. Big Three.

The Houston Auto Show is where car companies let consumers peek into the future. For Chrysler, it's an all-electric car that is still a concept model for now.

"The idea is to definitely get some more fuel efficient vehicles on the market. Chrysler is really trying to be a leader in that category," said a Chrysler spokesperson.

At the Chevy-GM exhibit, the future is already here with the re-introduction of the Camaro. It's getting a lot of attention.

"I think that when they bring this back, they're going to have a car that's going to give the other guys some competition," said one car browser.

Combine that with Chevy's first full-size pickup hybrid, plus the Tahoe and Malibu hybrids, and you have a Big Three maker in overdrive trying to win back consumers.

"We're helping people to go gas-friendly to gas-free from our hybrids to our electric vehicles," said Chevy-GM representative Linda Martinez.

Ford has its new Mustang along with fuel-conscious hybrids too.

At this show, car makers are still searching for a surefire way to get people into showrooms.

"If you drive any Ford vehicle, Ford will pay you a $50 Mastercard debit card. Just for test driving any Ford vehicle," said a Ford spokesperson.

Despite the attractive products and improving fuel ratings, for every would-be buyer who would have to finance a purchase, it's not the car market that's the problem, but the credit market.

"Right now I think everyone's kind of clinching their wallets and just looking," said attendee Desiree Lewis.

You can still find plenty of people at the car show who were asking where to sign up, especially when it came to the new Camaro and Mustang.

The Houston Auto Show runs through Feb. 1.

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