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TECHNOLOGY

Big names go green at motor show

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The Peugeot "Moovie," designed by Portuguese student Andre Costa, is electric-powered.

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FRANKFURT, Germany (CNN) -- The big names in the auto industry turned up at this month's 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show to display their newest models -- but this year there was a distinct difference.

In previous years, if automakers had a vehicle to show that used an alternative fuel source, it was viewed as a somewhat novel idea.

This year, however, the world's biggest automakers were desperate to stress how they are using technology to improve their green credentials.

Evidence that the green motor revolution is well under way came with the winning entry from a Peugeot competition, which asked designers to create the car of their dreams.

Portuguese 23-year-old Andre Costa's entry -- called Moovie -- won, beating 2,600 competitors to first place.

Costa's prize is having his design built as a "concept car," as well €6,000 ($7,290).

The industrial design student's electric-powered car is environmentally friendly and easy to drive in cities, he said.

On a more commercially realistic level, there were hydrogen-powered cars on show in Frankfurt as well as a huge variety of hybrid vehicles.

Japanese car makers Toyota and Honda have both been producing hybrid cars since the late 1990s.

Toyota general manager Fabio Capano told CNN the technology used in the company's green vehicles effectively meant the driver created the car's "fuel" as it drove.

"While you decelerate, while you push your brake in the kinetic energy of the breaking is stored into the battery," he said.

Ford's nod to the environment is the development of what it describes as "flexi fuel" -- its bio-ethanol powered cars significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Ford research director Rudolf Kunze told CNN there was a big market for the Escape Hybrid SUV.

"The flexi-fuel focus vehicle is sold in Sweden. We have sold 15,000 of those vehicles. 80 percent of our Ford Focus sales in Sweden are flexi-fuel vehicles so the take up is very good. We would like to have more take up in other European countries and are working at that," he said.

Toyota's hybrid Prius sedan, the first mass-produced environmentally friendly vehicle, proves there is a market for eco-friendly cars -- they are currently being sold as fast as manufacturers can make them.

But for other technologies to make a significant impact, the entire transport infrastructures must be changed.

If consumers can stomach the costs, the current eco-movement in the car industry may continue.

If not car manufacturers may be forced to rely on age-old methods to keep the public's attention.

CNN's Linzie Janis contributed to this report.

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