January 13, 2010 09:41
Heads of U.S. automakers stressed a "new start" at the opening of the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on Monday, apparently hoping to move away from last year's disastrous performance amid the global economic crisis when their sales hit a 27-year low.
The year's Detroit Auto Show reveals both hopes and concerns. Some 60 new models including concept cars have been unveiled, up from 53 last year. But many areas of the venue remain vacant. Chrysler, which was acquired by Fiat last year, has unveiled no new models but instead is displaying two electric-powered versions of the new Fiat 500 compact. Nissan, which didn't show up last year, is displaying only one electric car this year, the Leaf, ahead of its planned release in North America later in 2010.
Compacts and eco-friendly models are taking center stage at the show. Ford debuted its next-generation Focus compact while GM has unveiled compact concept vehicles like the GMC Granite urban truck and Chevrolet Aveo RS. Korean, German and Japanese carmakers are showcasing hybrid and electric-powered vehicles.
Fourteen companies announced business plans on the opening day of the show. William Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor, made a surprise announcement that the company will move a battery plant from Mexico to Michigan and produce next-generation hybrid cars at its Michigan factory by 2012. Volkswagen also pledged to create jobs in the U.S. by investing US$1 billion, showing a video clip of the on-going construction of its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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