Global debuts expected as industry prepares for Detroit

The automotive industry is gearing up for around 30 global debuts expected in the new year at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), as the event struggles to retain its reputation as the top US auto show.

NAIAS, which kicks off on January 11, has been one of the world's largest and most influential shows for years. However, 2009's event was a more somber affair with visitor numbers dropping to 650,571 compared to over 700,000 in 2008. Held in Detroit, the US capital of car making, organizers expect 700 vehicles to be on display throughout the 2010 show's nine-day run.

All of the major US brands are expected to attend, but several other car makers are missing or are appearing in the sidelines in the current lineup, some for the second year running. After pulling out of last year's show, Mitsubishi and Nissan will display on "Electric Avenue," a special showcase area for green vehicles only. Likewise, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, also absent from the 2009 line-up, will only be on display in "The Gallery," a separate exhibition held in the MGM Grand Detroit away from the main event at the Cobo Exhibition Hall. Suzuki will not attend at all for the second year running, despite appearing at the Los Angeles Auto Show only one month earlier in December. Porsche is not expected to attend either, having debuted the new Boxster Spyder in Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, organizers remain optimistic, promising an "incredible lineup." The 37,000 square-foot (3,437 square meter) Electric Avenue feature will showcase new green technology from both startups and major manufacturers, with nearly 20 cars on display. Organizers will be hoping to capitalize on the recent green motoring trend and position NAIAS closer to the Los Angeles Show, traditionally associated with environmental motoring. "The Gallery" will also offer a separate showcase of high-end marques for two days only in the MGM Grand, helping to attract high end car makers back to the show and provide much needed space in the main exhibition hall.

Unveilings planned for the show include the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe (hot on the heels of the CTS Coupe debuted at Los Angeles), an electric C30 from Volvo and a new hybrid concept from Prius manufacturer Toyota. BMW has also announced plans to debut the MINI Beachcomber Concept, a doorless four-seater "buggy" derived from the original Mini.

On January 11, the winner of the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards will be announced, chosen by North American motoring journalists. The car finalists are the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Volkswagen Golf whilst truck finalists are the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect and the Subaru Outback. On January 12, the winner of the EyesOn Design award will be presented by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology to honor and celebrate a major design achievement in the automotive industry.

The North American International Auto Show runs from January 11 - 24 and is open to the public from January 16. An adult ticket costs $12 (€8.40).

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