Each year car manufacturers plan for a spate of auto shows in order to display new vehicles in their lineup, drum up sales for the coming year, and/or showcase prototypes that give media and consumers a glimpse of some of the crazy and cool ideas they’ve got in the pipeline. And Detroit’s North American Auto Show is one of the most buzzed about events of the year. So what can car lovers expect to see in 2012? Dozens of automakers turned out to feature new vehicles this year, and many exhibited streamlined bodies, fuel economy, technological innovations, and welcome extras that are sure to wow consumers in the coming year. So here are just a few that you’ll definitely want to be on the lookout for.
These days it’s all about cost, and we’re not just talking about the sticker price. With the global economy decidedly stuck in recession, the European Union on the brink of financial disaster, and China’s housing market in decline, 2012 doesn’t look to be the year that the world sees its way clear to economic recovery. And of course, conflicts in the Middle East (combined with a high demand for petroleum products) mean prices at the pump aren’t likely to drop much this year. So for a lot of consumers, the ongoing costs of maintaining a vehicle are of paramount concern. And several automakers seem to have heard their patrons loud and clear.
For example, Toyota is introducing the Prius C, and their latest iteration of the popular hybrid will offer 53 miles per gallon, a number that is sure to please frugal consumers and environmentalists alike. But they’re not the only ones hailing the eco-bandwagon. Ford has also beefed up their 2013 Fusion. The new model will be available as a plug-in hybrid, which means it is not only eligible for tax incentives (both federal and state, depending on where you live), but it also qualifies for carpool exemption. And the American carmaker has stated that the streamlined new hybrid (which some have describes as “Aston Martin-esque”) will deliver an astonishing 100 mpg when the electric engine is fully charged. Yowsa! Finally, Volkswagen introduced their all new E-Bugster. And this cute coupe is more than just a fun drive; it also comes with a reported range of 100 miles, not to mention zero emissions.
But despite the many features that recommend these green vehicles to the average car-buyer, the concept cars were the ones that really wowed, as always. Notable on the showroom floor were the Acura NSX Concept, along with Chevy’s Code 130R and Tru 140 S. Anyone looking to take a gander at the Acura can take a good look in the upcoming Avengers movie, but what you need to know is that it features a fuel-efficient, high-performance, hybrid powertrain (and it is actually slated for production and sales, unlike many showy concept cars). As for Chevy’s offerings, both are sporty (the former is muscle-bound while the latter takes inspiration from exotic Italian vehicles), but only one is likely to make it to the production line, depending on how their social media outreach pans out (consumers get to choose).
Overall, the 2012 North American Auto Show provided for some interesting insights into the vehicles that we’ll be seeing for sale come November, as well as potential offerings further down the line. Although those waiting for something special will have to stick to their old clunkers or cheap car hire services until then, it won’t be long before many of these beauties hit dealerships and make their way onto the roads.
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.