The North American International Auto Show opened in Detroit with a bang. Literally. Apparently, the Chrysler Pentastar fell from the ceiling and startled a cluster of journalists as well as billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and his entourage. No one was hurt, but the portentous crash may be more than symbolic for the American auto industry if their bets on electric and hybrid vehicles fail to deliver, or if China’s BYD motors beats them to the punch with their plug-in F3DM.

Though subdued — Chrysler left the steer back at the ranch this year — the more “rational” Detroit Auto Show saw more hybrid and electric vehicles debuts than first-generation Prius-owners could have possibly imagined 10 years-ago. The Chrysler Circuit, Lexus HS 250h, third-generation Toyota Prius, new Honda Insight, Fisker Karma S, Lincoln Concept C, BMW Concept-7, and the smart ed — which will be powered by Tesla batteries — comprise just a smattering of the electric and hybrid concepts and production models that will start to roll off respective assembly lines by the end of this year.

Check out the photo slideshow from Detroit below. To see the photo captions, click to enlarge and then press “show info” in the flickr slideshow.

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