• Detroit: It’s still around, and as long as the feds continue to give transit short-shrift, we’ll be driving and bailing for years to come. But in honor of our societal shift toward fuel efficiency, the automakers have some brand new electric vehicles and hybrids they have been showing off this week at the North American International Auto Show, Jan. 11-25.

From the third-generation Prius to the Dodge Circuit to the Mini E, talk of fuel efficiency and battery-life replaced praise for horsepower and chrome. Thank goodness for the 505-horsepower Revenge GTM-R or we might confuse ourselves and our cars with those subdued European models.

While electric vehicles stole the auto show, Toyota’s executive vice president, Masatami Takimoto, said in an interview with the New York Times that Toyota would produce a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle by 2015. GM’s lead engineer on the Volt also thinks Hydrogen is the fuel of the future — I guess he hasn’t read Joseph Romm’s opinions on the matter. GM’s Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and strategic planning, thinks Toyota has a lock on hybrids and that the Americans need to “change the game,” but he didn’t specify if that meant a focus on hydrogen.

From Jan. 17-25, NAIAS will be open to the public. If you live in Detroit, don’t miss these 10 vehicles of interest, as advised by Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press, and when else will you take an i-Miev for an EcoExperience 10-mph test-drive a la Michigan Economic Development Corporation?

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(Side note: Jalopnik nearly ran into the Sen. Bob “I’m against the bailout plan” Corker (R-Tenn.) in their little electric mobile command center. You can — hee hee — watch the video here.)

In other news …

• Like Israel, Denmark, Australia, California, and Hawaii before it, the city of Ontario, Canada, will now be a Better Place.

• Ferrari is now offering research grants for automotive technology that reduces vehicle weight and CO2 emissions.

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• Because GMAC received money from TARP, Chrysler Financial screamed “competitive disadvantage” and wrangled $1.5 billion from Treasury Secretary Paulson’s bailout stash.

• The Secret Service released photos of President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural limo. Speculation as to whether Limo Force One is a clean diesel has been squelched by both GM and the Secret Service because of security concerns.

• Speaking inaugurally, Plug In America didn’t get their float in the Inaugural Parade, so they made their own. Saturday morning, the Inauguration Parade West — consisting of over 70 plug-in vehicles — will glide through the city streets of sunny Santa Monica, Calif. The festivities start at 9:00 a.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Center.

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