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Green Cars Are Coming (Okay, When?)

Chevy Volt Concept
Chevy Volt Concept

The Frankfurt Auto Show kicked off today and as expected, the automakers are all talking about cars that are more fuel efficient, more environmentally friendly, and more viable than the first attempts at building electric or low emission cars.

On the surface it sounds great. GM rolled out it Chevy Volt concept. Porche is showing a hybrid version of it's Cayenne SUV. Audi is planning to build and sell hybrids in the U.S. It's a green auto show to say the least.

But when will this slew of new vehicles be here and out on the road? The hybrids won't take long. But don't expect huge numbers. There's demand for hybrids, but overall, they still generate just 1-2% of overall sales.

On the electric car side, that is going to take a while. Yes, companies like Tessla out of California are building electric cars that are amazing and beautiful. But so far, production is limited.

It will be a while before we see the Chevy Volt or other mass market electric cars because the power needed by batteries is just not there yet. For lightweight sports cars from Tessla, there's enough battery power. But for a four seat sedan, we are a ways off.

So as you watch what's happening in Frankfurt, keep in mind, the greening of autos is coming, albeit slowly.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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