DETROIT – The North American International Auto Show opened in Detroit with Japanese automakers debuting sports cars and pickup trucks, taking advantage of U.S. market trends toward less fuel-efficient vehicles as fuel prices drop.
With an enthusiastic auto industry reporting annual sales in 2014 of more than 16.5 million vehicles — a figure not seen in the United States since 2007 — and the light truck segment growing about 10 percent, automakers from around the world gathered in Detroit on Monday to unveil more than 40 vehicles, with many shifting focus away from fuel efficiency and toward performance.
Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled the 2016 Tacoma midsize pickup truck on Monday while its luxury brand Lexus was expected to debut the GS F performance sedan on Tuesday. The sporty midsize car will join the brand’s high-performance F lineup that also includes the RC F coupe that was unveiled at last year’s show.
“This year’s exhibit shows the breadth and depth of Toyota’s achievements in the global automotive industry with a look toward the future,” Don Johnson, Toyota’s auto show engagement manager, said in a press release.
Honda Motor Co.’s FCV fuel cell concept was scheduled to make its North American debut on Tuesday and the company’s luxury division unveiled the NSX sports car on Monday. The new NSX marks a revival of the model that was sold in Japan under the Honda division and was last produced in 2005.
“The next-generation NSX will deliver a ‘new sports experience’ true to its heritage and to the supercar concept that originally gave rise to the name NSX,” Acura Senior Vice President Mike Accavitti said in a press release. “The NSX will serve as the ultimate expression of Acura performance that is fueling a re-energized brand.”
Nissan Motor Co. debuted the 2016 Titan full-size pickup on Monday. The new truck could turn around sales of the model that saw a 20 percent fall last year.
Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division, was set to unveil the Q60 sports coupe concept on Tuesday. It draws inspiration from current models and demonstrates the brand’s “future design language,” the company said.
“The Q60 Concept is the next step in the journey. The sweeping lines of the Q80 Inspiration gave the Q60 Concept its coupe silhouette and looks while the Formula One-inspired touches from the Q50 Eau Rouge endowed the coupe with its sports personality,” Infiniti Executive Design Director Alfonso Albaisa said in a press release.
Meanwhile, American and European automakers are expected to use the Detroit show to showcase key models intended to capture market share and excitement in the U.S. market, which some in the industry predict could see sales of as many as 17 million vehicles in 2015.
The largest automaker in the country, General Motors Co., will unveil the second generation of its Volt plug-in hybrid electric car that will likely have a longer range than the 60 km (37 miles) the current model can travel on a single charge.
The No. 2 U.S. automaker, Ford Motor Co., is widely expected to launch a new muscle car, such as the GT that was last produced in 2006.
German company Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, debuted the 2016 GLE Coupe crossover and the C350 plug-in hybrid sedan on Monday.
BMW AG will reveal three new 6 Series models — a convertible, a coupe and a sedan — as well as a performance version of each one.
The 27th annual show was open to the media on Monday and Tuesday. It will open to the general public between Saturday and Jan. 25.
Last year’s event drew more than 800,000 visitors.