Toyota to have 2010 plug-in; GM invests in cellulosic ethanol

I won't dwell here -- there are many announcements at the Detroit auto show and they'll get tonnes of coverage by other bloggers and reporters. But two, so far, have stood out for me. First, GM said it had invested an undisclosed amount in cellulosic-ethanol maker Coskata, one of Vinod Khosla's many biofuel investments. For details, read Greentech Media story here. Coskata is one of several companies going after the holy grail of biofuels, and certainly cellulosic ethanol is the only way this renewable fuel will have a major impact on fuel consumption without devastating food markets and causing other unintended consequences, as we've seen with corn ethanol production.

The other announcement came from Toyota: the Japanese auto titan said it would be producing a plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2010, and that it would use a lithium ion battery (a departure from what it has said in the past). This more aggressive schedule, and the fact that Toyota appears to have gained a new appreciation for lithium ion technology, puts Toyota on a crash coarse with GM in a race to bring the first mass-market plug-in hybrid to market.

There you have it. Two stories supporting two of the better trends in the cleantech space: cellulosic ethanol and plug-in vehicles.

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