The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is one of the largest shows in the world and focuses very much on what the big boys of the auto industry have to say, as one would expect.

But wandering off the main floor and downstairs to Michigan Hall, it was the smaller, wackier ideas that shone the brightest, from companies who have made some pretty important announcements of their own.

Li-ion Motors Corp was the first to speak on the second press day of the show, announcing that it planned to launch two electric vehicles to the public this year.

The North Carolina-based company hopes to take on Tesla with its $139,000 INIZIO, which boasts a top speed of 274 km/h and a 0-97 km/h time of just 3.4 seconds, although it also has the $39,000 WAVE II two-passenger vehicle for those unable to shell out for an electric supercar.

Hailing all the way from Monaco, Venturi is another electric car maker hoping to get into the electric sportscar market.

Fresh from opening its first North American office in Ohio, it showcased the aptly-named Venturi America, a high-powered, lightweight electric sportscar with a range of 300 km and a top speed of 190 km/h - from a charge which will cost around €6/$8 per day on European daytime rate.

Mach7 Motorsports' carbon fibre Falcon was equally exciting (albeit at the other end of the environmental spectrum thanks to its V8 engine) and even if the final product isn't quite ready yet, it's expected to prove popular with fans of the modding brand when its released later this year.

For Automotive X Prize contestant Wikispeed, the focus was less what's in the car than what could be in the car - it claims its 100 mpg SGT01 could herald a revolution in motoring.

With a target price of under $20,000, the ultra-light vehicle could be the first "modular" vehicle. allowing users to switch components such as the engine in the same way they would change a battery pack.

All the vehicles are being displayed at the North American International Auto Show, which is open to the public January 15 - 23 in Detroit, Michigan.

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