A renewed US car industry showed the world it’s back on its wheels at the Detroit motor show, with talk of record sales, global expansion and more fuel-efficient vehicles than ever.
But the home of the US’s big three car makers couldn’t take all the credit. International co-operation and a realisation that the car industry is changing – fast – has forced Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to lean on their overseas operations even more heavily than ever.
At the same time the wacky, front-page concept cars that have typified the first high-profile motor show of the year were largely absent from the American big three’s offerings.
Ford unleashed a surprise – the Atlas concept, a vision of a futuristic F-Series truck. It also revealed a European-inspired van tailored for Americans, and a midsize Fusion (to be sold here as the Mondeo) designed to increase volumes in one of the biggest segments.
Chevrolet showed off a suite of smaller vehicles developed and sold outside the US. The cars are important additions for a manufacturer once heavily reliant on large gas guzzlers.
And some of the stratospheric growth Chrysler-Jeep boasted of while unveiling updated models can be credited to its tie-up with Italian giant Fiat.
Welcome to Detroit 2013 – global style.
Most agree the international flavour being embraced by GM, Chrysler and Ford had to happen. The three companies – two of which, Chrysler and GM, went bankrupt during the GFC – were limited in their repertoire, and producing cars that fewer motorists wanted.
It’s clear that looking beyond the American heartland and embracing small-car expertise has yielded results for car makers on a comeback, which have turned their primary focus from performance and size to fuel-saving, technology and connectivity.
Of course, the muscle-car history of Detroit wasn’t completely overlooked.
There was time for some V8 fun – most notably from the arrival of the all-new, seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette – in a symbolic reinforcement that the old Detroit hasn’t forgotten its heritage.
And Jeep vowed to produce more of its high-performance SRT models in response to strong global demand.Chevrolet Corvette
Any new Corvette is a big deal, more so when it features lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre and revives the little-used Stingray nameplate. The new angular design harks back to the original Stingray of the second- and third-generation models built between 1963 and 1982.
Chevrolet started with a clean-sheet design for the new Corvette and has produced a lighter, more powerful and more fuel-efficient design.
The new car is powered by the new 6.2-litre, 335kW and 610Nm V8, which can move the Corvette from rest to 100km/h in less than four seconds. The V8 now has direct injection, and will be paired with either a six-speed paddle-shift automatic or a new seven-speed manual transmission.
”Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history,” the vice-president of global design at GM, Ed Welburn, says. ”We knew we couldn’t use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy.”
The Australian car converter, Performax International, has brought American cars to the local market for 25 years and is committed to selling the new Corvette here, the company’s spokesman, Brett Loweki, says.Honda Urban SUV concept
The popular Honda CR-V will soon be available in a smaller, more affordable size, with Honda confirming it will produce a version of its SUV Concept.
The Honda SUV Concept features bold styling in a high-riding SUV body that has clear design connections to the CR-V, one of Honda’s bestsellers and one of the most popular soft-roaders on the market.
While the concept-car details – radical-looking lights, swoopy mirrors, etc – will be tamed for the production car (from 2014), the overall shape and styling themes of the Urban SUV are expected to remain as per the concept.Infiniti Q50
A new naming strategy and an all-new model add up to the Q50 from luxury newcomer Infiniti that will compete in the booming lower end of the luxury market. Distinctive styling is characterised by a bold grille and character lines of a car designed to rival, among others, the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The Infiniti Q50 sedan is expected to arrive in Australia towards the end of 2013. The technology-laden Q50 features distinctive design traits such as twin touchscreens – one for media, one for ventilation controls. The car will initially be offered with a choice of either the familiar 3.7-litre petrol V6 or the performance-focused petrol-electric hybrid. Two four-cylinder engines, a petrol and diesel, won’t arrive for ”about two years”, according to the boss of the brand, Johan de Nysschen.Hyundai HCD-14
How would you like a car that allows you to adjust the volume, operate the ventilation system or program the satnav by twisting your fingers in midair? The Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis showcases the technology that ”within a few years” will be on an ambitious Hyundai production car that takes its inspiration from this sleek four-door one-off.
However, Hyundai warned not to draw too many conclusions about the next-generation Genesis – a car that will be sold in Australia – from the concept car’s eye-catching form.
”This isn’t [the next-generation Genesis] – it’s the guiding light for a whole portfolio of premium products that we have coming,” the North America president and chief executive, John Krafcik, says.Volkswagen CrossBlue
The CrossBlue full-size SUV was designed primarily for North America, but Australia will no doubt eye the car that could offer an all-important seven-seat SUV for the brand. The one-off concept in Detroit offers seating for six – a layout expected to make way for a seven-seat layout on the production version.
At the heart of the CrossBlue is a sophisticated plug-in diesel-electric hybrid system first showcased in the earlier Cross Coupe and is expected to be in production by mid-decade. It combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with two electric motors.Nissan Resonance
Previewing the new Murano SUV, the Resonance concept features a radical high-riding wagon body with a bold U-shaped grille leading into edgy headlights and a flowing shape that points towards sharply angled tail lights.
Inside, the look is just as radical, described by Nissan as a ”futuristic VIP lounge”. The Resonance concept is powered by a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, something likely to make it into the production car due on sale in 2015.Cadillac ELR
The Cadillac ELR is a Holden Volt plug-in hybrid car with a sharp new suit. It uses the same hybrid powertrain as the Volt – a 1.4-litre petrol engine acts as a range-extending generator for the car’s 16.5kWh bank of batteries.
While the tech-packed two-door is unlikely to make it to Australia, the Cadillac brand is back on the agenda. Speaking in Detroit, the chairman and managing director of Holden, Mike Devereux, admitted the company had been crunching numbers on the brand for months.
”Our team is talking to the global Cadillac group about if and when it would make sense to properly, 100 per cent, both feet in, launch that brand,” Devereux said.
”But we would not do that until the conditions were absolutely rock-solidly perfect.”Toyota Furia
The Furia is the first concept-car glimpse of the next-generation Corolla sedan. Toyota claims the ”ferocious-looking” model will help the brand boost its appeal with young buyers.
The Furia concept sports strong lines and a lengthy appearance thanks to its long wheelbase, giving the car a ”wheel at each corner” stance. A bold, blacked-out grille gives it a more upmarket appearance, while the slimline headlights and tail lights sharpen the look further.Lexus IS
It’s been a long time coming, but the new IS sedan – the entry-level four-door for the resurgent luxury brand – has arrived with a visual bang. It has a much edgier look than the outgoing model, with the now trademark Lexus ”spindle” grille giving it a more imposing presence.
The BMW 3-Series rival will go on sale locally midyear, powered by 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre V6 engines, as well as a petrol-electric four-cylinder hybrid.Jeep Grand Cherokee
The shape is familiar, but a new grille and headlights help differentiate the look of Jeep’s updated Grand Cherokee, which arrives here midyear. Engines are unchanged, with the option of a 3.6-litre V6, 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel and 6.4-litre V8, but a new eight-speed auto improves performance and reduces fuel use.
The interior has also gone more upmarket on Overland and SRT models, with a customisable colour screen instrument cluster, suede roof lining and an advanced infotainment system.Honda NSX
Honda unveiled an updated version of its NSX concept car, and hinted that it could be available in right-hand-drive when it reaches the production stage.
The chief designer for Acura, Jon Ikeda, told Drive he was convinced there would be a right-hand-drive model at some point.
”I’m sure it will be sold in right-hand-drive markets – it’s a global car, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Ikeda said.
The new concept features sleeker lines and bigger proportions, and is envisaged to be offered with a mid-mounted V6 petrol engine teamed with an all-wheel-drive powertrain.
For the first time for the next-generation NSX, the company also exhibited how the interior of the car could look.
Ikeda said the new NSX concept illustrated what the inside would be like, down to details as fine as the depth of the seat cushions.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.