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New Cars Coming From Detroit: GM Minicar, Ford Plug-In Hybrid

General Motors and Ford gave previews of cars they are working on today at the New York Auto Show. GM unveiled a mini-car, while Ford discussed a plug-in hybrid vehicle it is developing.

General Motorswill begin producing a mini-car concept vehicle unveiled at the New York International Auto Show "very soon," the automaker's product chief said on Wednesday, adding that they will be launched in Europe and Asia.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the show, Bob Lutz declined to comment on where the car would be built, but said India and China were "very logical candidates."

Three concept mini-cars, designed in South Korea and assembled in the United States and India, were unveiled at the show on Wednesday.

Lutz said GM will pick one of them for production.

He also said the mini-car will be branded Chevrolet in all markets except South Korea, where the identical vehicle will be launched under the Daewoo brand.

Ford Hybrid

Ford Motor is working to develop a plug-in hybrid vehicle, product chief Derrick Kuzak said on Wednesday, adding that the biggest challenge is developing the battery technology.

Speaking to reporters at the New York International Auto Show, Kuzak said the automaker is working on advanced battery technology for the vehicle.

"The battery technology is one of the biggest challenges," Kuzak said. "There is also the problem of infrastructure. When people start driving electric cars, where will the electricity come from? That has to be looked at."

Unlike current gas-electric hybrids, which use a parallel system twinning battery power and a combustion engine, plug-in cars could be driven entirely by electric power. But no automaker has a plug-in on the road yet, due to a host of barriers.

Rivals Toyota Motor , which leads the market in hybrid sales, and General Motors are also working on lithium-ion battery technology for plug-in hybrids.

Battery technology is the key to next-generation vehicles as automakers seek ways to lower the cost of batteries and increase their power and storage capacity.

GM has said its plug-in would be able to drive 40 miles on pure electricity.

"Some automakers are saying 40, but we are saying 20 to 25 miles ... to offload the battery (give it a rest) and potentially make it more affordable," Kuzak said.

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