Think of concept cars as glimpses into crystal balls, through automakers' eyes. They are predictions of the future -- and also chances for vehicle manufacturers to test out their ideas and get feedback from the market before spending big bucks to roll out new designs and technologies on the streets.
This year, the concept cars at the North American International Auto Show make it clear that green is on manufacturers' minds. Plug-in hybrids, electric cars, fuel-cell cars and biofuel cars all are represented on the showroom floor.
That signifies that automakers think the future holds a greener path, but that they aren't yet in agreement about which technologies to take down that road. After all, while manufacturers say there's room for many different powertrain technologies, the truth is that they probably can't produce all of them -- and get the infrastructure in place for too many multiple technologies -- and still remain profitable.
Katie Hepler, a Chrysler spokesperson, said the company is relying on customer reaction from the showrooms to help decide which technologies to pursue.
"You can do the research and collaborate on all these things, but -- yeah -- you can't invest in everything," she said. "At the same time, I don't know how you pick a horse, necessarily, and they all are part of the pie. Nothing's going to be the only [technology] in the near term."
Here are some of the green concepts that illustrate automakers' green dreams: