Automakers gathered at the New York International Auto Show to debut new vehicles – and showcase the latest vehicles in production. Among those revealing new vehicles were Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan.

Ford showed off its Escape Hybrid SUV, which will begin low-volume fleet production at year’s end and retail production in the second half of 2004. The vehicle will feature an advanced thermal management system that will result in longer battery life, the company said. The Escape Hybrid will offer a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery, allowing the vehicle to run on either the gasoline engine or battery power alone; and the vehicle will get 35-40 miles per gallon fuel economy in the city driving cycle. At the heart of the Escape Hybrid is a compact hybrid transaxle linking Ford’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, 65-kW electric motor, 28-kW generator, and the drive wheels.

Chrysler announced a return to its roots, with the introduction of the new 300C concept, marking the return of the HEMI engine to the Chrysler brand after more than 30 years. Although currently a concept vehicle, the 300C provides a strong hint at the first sedan built from Chrysler’s anticipated next generation of rear-wheel drive vehicles, which will debut in 2004. The new vehicle will feature a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine; electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick; short- and long-arm front suspension; and independent five-bar multilink rear suspension. The 300C also will boast Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control, and an anti-lock brake system.

Toyota announced the introduction of its 2004 Prius, which will move the vehicle from compact to the mid-size class. The 2004 Prius will be the first Toyota equipped with the new high-voltage/high-power Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. Like the original Toyota Hybrid System (THS) on the current Prius, Hybrid Synergy Drive is defined as a "full hybrid system," capable of operating in either gas or electric modes, as well as a mode in which both the gas engine and electric motor are in operation. Hybrid Synergy Drive is expected to increase fuel efficiency in the new Prius by 15 percent with combined mpg rising from the high 40s to the mid-50s, the company reported. The new Prius rides on an entirely new platform, with a wheelbase nearly six inches longer than the current Prius.

Nissan's Titan Crew Cab was unveiled by Jed Connelly, Nissan North America's Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. About the new vehicle, Connelly said, "Like the King Cab, Titan Crew Cab is built on a rock solid foundation … an all-new truck platform featuring a fully boxed all-steel frame, our advanced 300-plus horsepower Nissan Endurance 5.6-liter V8 engine, and rugged truck suspension." He added that, "nearly 90 percent of Titan's 375-plus pounds-feet of torque is available below 2,500 rpm." Titan is designed with a towing capacity of 9,400 pounds, and more interior space and rear seat legroom.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials