Focus is firmly on auto innovation at Detroit show

More than 50 new car designs will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week, the highlight of the international automotive industry’s calendar.

Among them is the new Mini Clubman, the first five-door, five-seater Mini. The car features double doors at the back – and on the starboard side, the rearward of these giving access to the back seat. Mercedes, Toyota and Lexus are reported to have made significant improvements to their stands this time around.

According to an NAIAS spokesman, Lexus has gone for a ‘total refresh’ of its site – and both Lexus and Mercedes have added a second storey.

Michigan-based exhibition design consultancy George P Johnson designed and built the stands for Toyota and Lexus. Lexus’s 1170m2 stand is made with entirely recycled, reclaimed and sustainable materials. The first level will showcase the brand’s vehicle range, while the second will feature what Lexus describes as a ‘brand tour’.

Toyota’s 2700m2 stand features interactive displays and kiosks as well as a central ‘Toyota Live’ talk show-style area, in which hosts will take visitors through Toyota’s latest news and developments.

Imagination has once again designed the exhibition stands for several Ford brands, including Jaguar, Mazda, Lincoln Mercury and Land Rover.

A record number of Chinese car brands will attend the show and all are launching new models. BYD Auto, Chamco and Li Shi Guang Ming are represented for the first time; the others attending are Changfeng Motor Group and Geely International .

NAIAS co-chairman Joe Serra says, ‘There will be great emphasis on fuel-efficient vehicles as well as alternative technologies. We are also expecting greater trends toward lighter vehicles, emphasising the role of design in maximising space.’

Californian manufacturer and first-time exhibitor Fisker is hoping to satisfy both luxury car fans and the environmental lobby with its new ‘Green American premium car’ – a collaboration with hybrid technology specialist Quantum. ‘Design is vital in this industry,’ declares NAIAS’ Carl Galeana. ‘Cars are an extension of our personalities and imaginations… Not only does [design] drive excitement among consumers, but it also serves as a prelude to where the industry is headed in the future.’

NAIAS runs from 13 to 27 January.

WHO’LL BE IN THE DRIVING SEAT?

Several top gongs will be presented at the NAIAS show:

• North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year, judged by 45 US and Canadian motoring journalists

• EyesOn Design awards – categories include aesthetics and innovation, concept implementation, functionality and spirit of industrial design

• Michelin Design Challenge – 272 design teams are competing to win this year’s challenge, based on the theme, ‘safer, smaller, better’

• In addition, the AutoWeek Design Forum will explore the importance of fun in car design

 

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