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Jeremiah 29:11 01-12-2008 04:58 PM

The cars on the road soon...Detroit show is auto industry's biggest showcase

The cars on the road soon...
Detroit show is auto industry's biggest showcase

Rick Popely
The Chicago Tribune

Saturday, January 12, 2008

DETROIT - The Detroit Auto Show, the industry's biggest debutante ball in the U.S., gets under in a week with the usual mix of green, mean and hauling machines from major manufacturers including General Motors, Ford and Toyota.

But Detroit this year also sports a Chinese accent with four manufacturers sending strong signals they are primed to become lower-priced rivals to the established players in the U.S.

Besides the car companies, a Chinese design studio also will display vehicles in the media preview leading to the show that opens Jan. 19-27 in Cobo Center.

Geely International Corp., which was at the 2006 show, and Changfeng Motor Group, which was there last year, are being joined by BYD Auto Co. and China American Cooperative Automotive Inc. (CHAMCO), the U.S. distributor of Zhongxing Automobile Co. Li Shi Guang Ming Auto Design Co. parades its electric cars.

CHAMCO could be the first to do business in the U.S. It has announced plans to sell a sport-utility vehicle and pickup here starting in June and is recruiting dealers, though it has yet to announce that either vehicle has been certified to U.S. safety and emissions regulations. BYD has said it intends to launch in the U.S. by early 2009.

Geely and another Chinese manufacturer, Chery Automobile Co., previously said they planned to sell cars in the U.S. by 2008 at the latest, but both backed away, saying they needed more time to develop suitable models.

The industry's major players won't be lacking in Detroit, either.

Ford unveils the 2009 F-150 pickup and Verve and Explorer America concepts. The F-150, the industry's best-selling model, has a more rugged appearance. Verve is Ford's new global subcompact car, due for U.S. sale in 2010, and the Explorer America is a peek at the next-generation Explorer SUV.

Dodge will take the wraps off its redesigned big rig, the 2009 Ram pickup, which adds a crew cab style for the first time. The Ram is Chrysler LLC's best-seller.

Chrysler also will introduce three "green" concepts -- all have electric motors. The Chrysler ecoVoyager also has a hydrogen fuel cell, the Dodge Zeo is an all-electric sport wagon and the Jeep Renegade is a plug-in, diesel-powered hybrid off-roader.

GM will flex its muscles with the Corvette ZR-1, whose supercharged 6.2-litre V8 produces more than 620 horsepower and a top speed of more than 300 km/h, and the V-8 powered Cadillac CTS-V. Not as brawny as Corvette, but a performance sedan nonetheless.

Toyota introduces the Venza, a five-passenger crossover that blends sedan and SUV attributes. Also from Toyota, the A-BAT compact pickup concept is built on a car platform instead of a truck one.

Honda unveils a prototype of the 2009 Pilot SUV that it says will have bolder styling, and it will show the CR-Z concept, a two-seat, gas/electric.

Nissan, which has failed to connect with its Quest minivan, indicates it will try again with the Forum, a futuristic concept that seats seven, including a second row that swivels 180 degrees.

Hyundai moves upscale with the Genesis, a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that will be offered in V-6 and V-8 versions.

RLSH700 01-16-2008 10:39 PM

RE: The cars on the road soon...Detroit show is auto industry's biggest showcase
I'll have to go to the Detroit one some year. This year I get to go to the St. Louis one instead of the K.C. one, thankfully since last year they wouldn't send the Challenger over.

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