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2011 Detroit Auto Show Highlights Part 2: Foreign Threats and Trends

On the previous blog, I featured the Big Three’s presentations in the 2011 North American International Auto Show; but of course, they are not the only ones on the field.  In recent years, more and more foreign brands participate in Detroit’s most celebrated auto show.  This year is no exception.  Ford, GM and Chrysler were not the only ones that came up with new and innovative cars; the visiting team, as some would say, have growing power and are perhaps even outshining their co-carmakers.  It is not surprising then, that much of the buzz is centered toward these foreign favorites.

The classic European brands are well-represented in this year’s event as usual.  The Porsche 918 RSR combines style and substance with a futuristic sports car concept that makes almost everyone gush.  This supercar is a gasoline-electric powered two-seater that aims to be the future of race car driving.

Audi and Volkswagen represented Germany with both big and small car offerings.  Audi launches the all-new A6 hybrid sedan, which won this year’s Eyes on Design Award.  Meanwhile, Volkswagen is also introducing its new midsize Passat, a larger yet cheaper, updated version of its older outgoing model.

Mercedes-Benz showcases a wide variety of cars this year.  On the “lower” end, it displays the newest C-Class sedan, and also shows the CLS luxury coupe and the gull-wing SLS supercar for its higher end segments.

BMW is not to be left out with its all new limited-volume sports car, 1 Series M Coupe.  They also had on display the new 6 Series convertible, which confirms (after having been already revealed through the web a couple of months ago) its improved looks and better driving experience than its predecessor.

Not to be out staged are the Asian carmakers, which are just as newsworthy as the ones already mentioned.  Surprisingly, fast-rising Korean carmaker Hyundai presents probably the biggest, boldest and most-talked about concept.   If you’re the type who likes symmetry, you’ll probably think a three-door layout—with a front door on the driver’s side, a second rear-seat access door on the passenger side plus a hatchback is plainly bizarre.  But it’s what Hyundai calls the Veloster, and this company believes that it is a more efficient alternative to the Honda CR-Z.  It targets the Gen-Y market, with a sporty design and many added creature comforts.

Japanese automakers, despite facing some difficult times, are also present in this year’s show.  Honda showcased its ninth generation 2012 Honda Civic SI coupe and sedan as concept cars, which are expected to hit showroom displays later this year.  Toyota, for its part, unveiled a new concept for a compact Prius hatchback.  Also on display is the new Prius V, a larger version of the previous model.  As always, Toyota highlights the Prius’ impressive fuel economy, which rivals that of any SUV.

Not all of the known brands were present, though.  Among the no-shows this year include Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Infiniti, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Nissan.

On the whole, these foreign brands are one with the Big Three in promoting smaller, “greener” and more affordable cars.  Electric cars and hybrids seem to rule the current scene, and by the looks of it, this trend will not soon go away.  It is going to be exciting to watch if America and the rest of the world will support t

hese automakers, knowing that hybrid car sales fell last year.  Still, the 2011 Detroit Auto Show is a positive beginning to the auto industry’s more optimistic horizon.  Here’s to hoping that these happy days are here to last.

The North American International Auto Show runs from January 10 – 23, 2011 at COBO Center, Detroit, Michigan.

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