DETROIT: THE WORLD'S BIGGEST car manufacturers descended on the city known for its history in the motor industry this week, showcasing their latest designs at the North American and International Auto Show (NAIAS).
Luxury supercars, powerful pickups, and innovative prototype cars all featured on the show floor this year and proved how the limitations that might have once prevented the motor industry from conceiving revolutionary prototypes and concept vehicles have well and truly vanished.
We were genuinely surprised by the major role that energy efficient vehicles played in this year's NAIAS. Without doubt, electric plug-in and hybrid vehicles were the main theme of the show. Take for instance the announcement by Volkswagen of its Crossblue concept SUV, a unique seven-passenger diesel-electric hybrid set to boost fuel efficiency dramatically. That is, if it ever reaches production.
While on the theme of efficiency, let's not forget Ford's Atlas Concept truck that the firm unveiled at a dramatic press conference in the Joe Louis Arena.
As a vision of the future direction of its highly popular F-150 pickup truck series, the rugged vehicle is fitted with an "Ecoboost" engine aimed at improving mileage per gallon and cutting carbon emissions by up to 15 percent.
Another personal favourite of ours was the Ram 1500 pickup truck, not necessarily for its efficiency - but just because it shouts that bigger is better, even if you do need a leg up to get into the driver's seat.
But even with the many automobile innovations seen at NAIAS this year, one reason not to enjoy being surrounded by the latest and greatest concept cars is the fact most of them are just that, concepts, and won't be available for a few years, if ever.
Proving a definite tease, NAIAS 2013 dangles a carrot in front of every car enthusiast looking to buy the next innovation in automobiles, but keeping it too far out of reach. Take for instance the incredibly suave looking Acura 2015 NSX electric supercar prototype that was unveiled during the show, or the more affordable Tesla Model X concept car that showed off its futuristic gull-wing doors along with a 17in in-car control system.
Detroit's Auto Show is sure to make life painful for well-off car buyers looking for their next innovative fix but having to settle for what's available on the market right now, while it smugly flaunts what's around the corner. Any auto show like NAIAS is sure to make them play the waiting game, though with the perpetual launch of innovations year after year, it's a game that just never ends.
And finally, forgetting about the innovative vehicles on show at the NASIAS this year, with their frustrating never-arriving release dates, we have to mention the ugly that was on display.
Proving that innovatiion doesn't neccessarily equate to beauty, the Smart Forstars concept car's menacing grille grimace and clash of fiery colours was perhaps one of our scariest moments at NAIAS.
However, it's not all bad, as the Forstars concept car has a hood-mounted video projector built int its evil looking face that turns the tiny two-seater into a mobile theatre. Allowing the connection of a mobile device via Bluetooth, the Forstars concept car projects movies through its teeth onto an opposing wall so drivers can enjoy their own private drive-in. Ideal for Halloween movie viewing, if you ask us. µ
Pre-orders to begin on 9 September with release to follow on 16 September
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