Boldly designed Japanese cars took center-stage at the Detroit Motor Show, one of the top five global showcases for the car industry.
Toyota, Honda and Nissan all unveiled their latest models at the Cobo Center in the heart of the city. Japanese carmakers have been losing traction due to their boring designs even though the quality is superior. Now they seem determined to make up for that shortcoming.
Over 50 new models from carmakers around the world are being showcased at the show until Jan. 27. Until last year, small and eco-friendly models dominated motor shows, but now the focus has shifted to bold, flamboyant designs.
Toyota premiered its Corolla Furia concept car at the show before releasing the model in the second half of this year. It sold a total of 290,000 of the Corolla compacts in the U.S. last year alone and hopes to boost sales with the newest version.
"It's only a concept, but it sends a clear message where we are going in the future," said Bill Fay of Toyota North America.
Honda came out with the Urban SUV concept, which offers a peek at its next small SUV to hit showrooms early next year. Smaller than the popular CR-V, the Urban boasts a new, bolder design.
Nissan unveiled the follow-up model to its premium Infiniti G37 sports sedan. The Q50 got rave reviews for bold and agile features capable of matching the best German sports sedans. Nissan will adopt a new naming system for the Infiniti starting in 2014 with sedans and coupes starting with "Q" and SUVs beginning with "QX."
The Q50 has a 3.7 liter, 328 horsepower engine.
Meanwhile, Korea's Hyundai unveiled premium sports sedan concept, the HCD-14. Faced with increasing competition in mass-market models, the carmaker surprised the industry by unveiling a boldly designed premium car.
But it remains to be seen whether Hyundai will secure a foothold solid enough to surpass Japanese carmakers and compete with German rivals. Sales of 34,000 Genesis sedans and 4,000 Equus large sedans in the U.S. last year are a promising sign.
The HCD-14 shows the direction of premium car design Hyundai Motor will pursue, said John Krafcik of Hyundai Motor America. The car features a 3D motion-sensing system allowing drivers to operate multimedia functions by moving their hand or simply by looking at a particular device.
Hyundai also unveiled a mid-sized plug-in hybrid car.