US auto show: Nothing is what it was in Detroit

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Nothing is what it was in Detroit

US auto show: Nothing is what it was in Detroit-show

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Ur-American and as monstrous as ever: A Dodge Viper from the super sports car class looks like a dinosaur on the Detroit Au, beyond all eco and electric trendstoshow 2010.

Source: dpa / DPA

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A study that already looks ready for series production: Volkswagen’s compact coupe with hybrid drive is the VW workhorse in Detroit.

Source: dpa / DPA

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New GM SUV with an exotic name: Arcadia Denali.

Source: AFP

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The new Ford Focus should score points on the world market from 2011.

Source: dpa / DPA

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Filigree polishing is apparently also fun on the Chevrolet Camaro RS.

Source: dpa / DPA

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The US company Green Vehicles is showing the futuristic electric three-wheeler Triac.

Source: AFP

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Another strange thing: Commuter Cars presents the Tango city mobile.

Source: AFP

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The Ford Fusion Hybrid was named US Car of the Year in Detroit.

Source: dpa

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As part of its safety research, Ford is showing new crash test dummies that have been christened child-sized tummies.

Source: AFP

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Powerful concept ship: The beefy Granite from GM.

Source: AFP

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Toyota’s hybrid study FT-CH could hardly be greener.

Source: dpa / DPA

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BMW sales boss Ian Robertson gets out of a Z4 sDrive35is.

Source: AFP

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The wedge-shaped, hybrid CR-Z is the highlight on the Honda stand.

Source: Thomas Geiger

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Audi is showing an XXS variant of its E-tron electric sports car.

Source: Thomas Geiger

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Audi sends the new A8 on a triumphant advance in the US luxury class.

Source: AP

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Chevrolet design boss Mike Simcoe with the Aveo, the only noteworthy innovation from the GM subsidiary.

Source: dpa / DPA

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Hyundai has presented a hybrid study called Blue Will at the fair. The 2 + 2-seater is not only breaking new ground on the outside,…

Source: dpa / DPA

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…but also surprises with futuristic ideas for the cockpit.

Source: REUTERS

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Coupe from Kia: The Koreans show the Forte Koup.

Source: AFP

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Poor appearance: A Lancia Delta that has been poorly converted to a Chrysler is a result of the new marriage between Fiat and the US manufacturer. The car doesn’t (yet) have a name.

Source: dpa / DPA

A mixture of departure, convalescence and swan song characterizes the mood at the biggest US auto show of the year. While VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and, as the only US manufacturer, Ford appear broad-minded, there is otherwise a lot of bumbling. Some big names are missing..

D.he halls brightly lit, the stands full of cars and thousands of guests in the aisles: after last year’s tragedy, the Detroit Motor Show is finally back in the here and now. The music plays a little quieter and the time of the big premiere parties seems to be over for good, but the US manufacturers are documenting their slow convalescence with a handful of halfway attractive novelties, and the Germans are making a big splash as always. Only the Asians seem like they’re still in hibernation.

Even if there were a few more innovations on the other side of the Atlantic, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) marks an optimistic start to the year all in all.

A real highlight comes from Ford. The company was the only one to get through the crisis without government emergency aid, is countering the strike concert by GM and Chrysler with a billion-dollar investment in Michigan and is the undisputed star of the show with the new Focus. Although the car was mainly developed in Cologne and will be on sale on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time at the turn of the year, the Americans celebrate the bearer of hope as one of their own and give the impression that small and compact cars can actually also be found in the former land of giants become a model for success.

In addition to Ford, it is again the German manufacturers who set the tone in Detroit. They have continuously increased their market share over the past five years and even during the crisis, with almost 800,000 sales in 2009 across all segments, reaching 7.3 percent and taking every second trick in the somewhat generously defined US top division. Instead of flexing their muscles as in the past, however, they are now relying on small, sensible and promising cars – there is the new convertible of the Mercedes E-Class as a summery pleasure model and the Mini Beachcomber, as the harbinger of the long-awaited off-roader Countryman, is almost the exception to the rule.

VW, on the other hand, is as green as it is tangible with the New Compact Coupe. On the one hand, the 4.54-meter-long two-door model shows the hybrid combination of a 150 PS TSI engine, a 27 PS Stromer and a dual clutch transmission (top 227 km / h, consumption 4.2 liters), with which in two years the Take the VW Golf, for example could save and drive electrically over short distances. And on the other hand, the trade fair model is the starting point for the new Jetta, which is expected in the summer and which should contribute its part to the planned doubling of VW sales in the USA in Wolfsburg.

Audi is looking a little further into the future, where everything revolves around a second edition of the E-tron. Because BIG is no longer BEAUTIFUL but now SMALL is especially SEXY, the Bavarians have shrunk their electric sports car and are presenting an XXS variant at the fair. Built on the platform of a new VW mid-engine sports car, the battery-powered bolide only measures 3.94 meters and, despite its 400 kilogram batteries, no longer weighs 1.5 tons. The performance is still impressive: with two motors on the rear axle, the E-Tron light has 204 hp, sprints in 5.9 seconds and runs 200 things. Even the range of 250 kilometers is okay.

BMW also goes with the flow. That is why the Bavarians are not only showing the hybrid versions of the X6 and Siebener, but also an electrically powered one, which will be tested in a fleet test next year in an edition of more than 500 copies. A real series production is not planned, but in five years at the latest you will find the 170 hp drive and the lithium-ion batteries from the Concept Active E in an ominous "Project i" vehicle.

The mood at General Motors and Chrysler is not quite as optimistic as at Ford and the German manufacturers. But while the Opel mother with the new small car Chevrolet Aveo and a few studies from Cadillac and GMC has little new to offer, the smallest of the former Big Three is exclusively polished scrap metal.

However, it is mixed with the new parent company Fiat, which, in addition to a Ferrari and a Maserati, has also parked two Fiat 500s between Chrysler 300C, Dodge Nitro and Jeep Wrangler. Emblematic of the lack of new ideas among the new Italian-American married couple, however, is the Lancia Delta, half-heartedly converted into a Chrysler, on their oversized stand, for which they could not even come up with a suitable name.

It doesn’t look much better with the Asians either: the Koreans only show old acquaintances, the Chinese, who have meanwhile moved into the main hall, are still not really serious, and at Mazda everything revolves again around the little two that will soon be his American career starts. Therefore only the hybrids from Honda and Toyota are new. Some celebrate with the CR-Z the first clean amateur athlete, which with its coarse wedge shape is a little reminiscent of the old CRX. And the others make it clear with a 3.90 meter short study that the Prius is far from reaching the lower end of the hybrid flagpole for the part-time streamers.

Where are Porsche, Rolls Royce or Nissan?

The bottom line is that the cautious optimism that defines the atmosphere in the exhibition halls of the Hobo Center cannot hide the fact that no stone has been left unturned in the American car world. In the last three years alone, the market has shrunk by a third and for 2009 is a good ten million new vehicles. Even if economists are right, hoping for a tentative increase, Americans will have to say goodbye to leadership.

Not only General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have fallen from their throne, the US market is also losing importance, says industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoffer. “America will remain the world’s largest car market for a few years to come,” he estimates. But the old market power is no longer coming back, and the Chinese will soon have taken first place. “Nothing in Detroit is therefore more like it was before", says Dudenhoffer:

Some automakers have long since drawn their conclusions from this: Brands such as Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and even Mitsubishi, Nissan and the noble offshoot Infiniti are therefore in vain in the Cobo Hall.

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