Green cars all the rage at Tokyo Motor Show

The most buzzworthy attractions this week at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show weren’t the biggest or the most powerful but the most eco-friendly. Hoping to dazzle drivers battered by high gas prices, automakers debuted a dizzying array of low-pollution, high fuel-efficiency vehicles — some electric, some powered by hydrogen fuel cells, some with hybrid gas-electric motors, and a few with combinations thereof. The big story behind the scenes, of course, is the hefty can of whoop-ass opened by Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda on their American counterparts over the last few years. Chastened by bad financials and bad press, Ford, GM, and Chrysler ostentatiously greened their rides, rolling out a number of shiny, gadget-filled concept models. In practical terms, Honda and Toyota are still years ahead, but beleaguered U.S. companies aren’t giving up. “Is that [hybrid] race over?” asked one GM VP. “Not at all.”