DETROIT (WOOD) - Despite the controversies over lagging sales and other issues, some automakers believe electric vehicles are the future.
"We personally believe that electrification has its place in the automotive business or we wouldn't be doing the kinds of things we're doing," said Chuck Russell, Chevrolet's Chief Engineer for the Volt and Spark projects.
The EV's, or electric vehicles, are represented at the North American International Auto Show . But they don't seem to be the marquee attraction they were at past shows.
Instead, you'll see many automakers squeezing as much mileage as they can out of upgrades to what's already under the hood.
"That's the name of the game now," said auto analyst Mike Wall of IHS Automotive. "It's all about power train technology. You've got a toolbox of technologies . Gasoline direct injection. Turbocharging . Super charging. You've got the displacement-on-demand active fuel management."
Take Chrysler's latest upgrade, the HP transmission. It's now in Jeep, Ram, Chrysler 300 and Charger models.
"Only two clutches open in any gear. Most transmissions have, like, four dragging," said Chrysler project leader James Adams. "We have very low viscosity oils, so there's not a lot of drag. Optimized pump sizes.
"It has eight ratios, which gives you the optimal ratio for highway cruising or for towing, for acceleration. You almost always have the right gear at the right time."
The transmission is expected to improve gas mileage on the Jeep Grand Cherokee to 18 city, 25 highway, a boost of two miles-per-gallon over the 2013 model.
While it doesn't provide the efficiency of an EV or Hybrid, Chrysler officials believe it's more practical.
"With hybrids you're going to have a couple hundred-thousand units out there because of the cost and everything involved," Adams said. "Here we're basically optimizing, reinventing, modernizing conventional things like transmission or engines to allow fuel efficiencies in a larger group of vehicles."
Improved, clean burning diesel engines are also getting being pushed by automakers.
A bill before the House would hold back third-grade students who are not proficient in reading.
Power lines blocked busy 28th Street near the Grand Rapids-Kentwood border Monday evening.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela will be honored Tuesday morning with a public memorial service expected to be viewed by people around the world.