It's looking good for GM's Acadia Denali, produced here in Lansing at the company's Delta plant.
"We just started production in September in Lansing and dealers are already telling us they need more, so we planned to run 20 percent of the Acadia sales mix," said U.S. Marketing Vice President for Buick and GMC John Schwegman. "Dealers are saying we might be 35-40 percent so we're trying to figure out a way to build more Acadia Denalis."
The company's Chevrolet Volt is also doing well. It was named the 2011 Car of the Year. The Volt runs on electricity for 40 miles before a backup gas engine kicks in.
"I think we've made alternative technology practical enough that it can be easily adopted by many Americans," said Volt Power Train Chief Engineer Pamela Fletcher.
Volt engineers say the car is roomy yet can take you more than 370 miles in a single trip, thanks to thinking outside the box.
"Literally every sub-system of the vehicle had to be rethought. Steering, braking, interior. We went to components that are lightweight," Fletcher said.
With Xbox's Kinect Joy Ride, an interactive video game that needs no remotes or controls, you can take the Volt for a spin without ever leaving the building. You just steer as you normally would, and to speed up, pull your arms back and release. It works by motion-detection.
GM's Buick Enclave, another Lansing-made car, directly boosts the Buick brand, company execs say.
"Buick has quickly moved to the fastest growing brand in the U.S. this past year with sales up 52 percent. The Enclave in the fourth year of its lifecycle had the best sales month it's ever had," Schwegman said.
GM isn't the only automaker tapping into the market for alternative vehicles. Mercedes and Smart Car were just two others.