Business / Auto Global

Carmakers battle to blend style in Detroit auto show

( Updated: 2014-01-15 18:45

BEIJING -- Experimental concept cars got top billing on the second day of the Detroit Auto Show. These cars are built for style and attention, rather than performance. So they may not make it onto roads. But they give consumers and investors a good idea of what will.

The countdowns, the models, and revving engines. The second day of the North American International Show brought more glamour and dramatic reveals of some of the world's most luxurious cars. Like Infiniti's Q50 Eau Rouge Concept. Infiniti hopes this car will help draw attention to its brand and boost sales, which fell 3 percent last year here in the US But in China - Infinity saw an explosive 50 percent growth and is planning to open a production facility there later this year.

"China will be our number one market by the end of the decade. There is a very large emerging group of youth premium - and they are really open to modern car," said Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti.

There was spectacular growth in China for Cadillac as well. Which unveiled its new ATS Coupe - to throngs of admiring media. And just minutes later they had another prototype to marvel at - the Acura TLX- a luxury sedan the company calls The Red Carpet Athlete. In fact, nearly every major automaker has its concept or prototype car here: Kia’s Stinger Nissan's iDX and Honda's FCEV. They're a way for companies to test ideas, gauge reaction and hint at future designs.

And this is another example of a concept car. Taking a much loved model like the Volkswagen Beetle and giving it a makeover. In this case, a "cool off-road look" as the company calls it - making this concept named the Dune able to handle both ski slopes and sandy beaches. But not all concept cars actually make it to production.

NAIAS chairman Bob Shuman says that just proves how useful these auto shows are. " They listen to the buzz, they run them through focus groups and if they see that nobody is standing around the car or talking about it on Twitter - it doesn't have a chance of seeing the day," said Bob Shuman, chairman of North American auto show.

So, you may never see a Toyota FT1 or a Mercedes S-Class Coupe at a your local dealership. But there's no arguing - concept cars play off our dreams-and give a glimpse into what the future of driving might one day look like.

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