Detroit Auto Show 2009
The North American Auto Show attracted media attention like never before, only for all the wrong reasons.
An auto show is a barometer for a country's car industry; expensive to attend and, many corporate bean counters surmised, advertising to a public in no mood to splash out on new wheels. As a result, the number of no-shows was remarkable, with high-end manufacturers especially thin on the ground - no Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Ferrari or Porsche, for example. Even volume Japanese car makers haven't escaped unscathed from the precipitous plunge in American car sales, so much so that Nissan and sub-brand Infiniti, Suzuki and Mitsubishi all thought their yen were better spent elsewhere.
See our round-up of the most elegant cars on show at the Detroit Auto show
With the domestic auto industry mired in debt and – some might say – a mediocre set of products, could anything on display at the city's Cobo conference centre revive consumer desire?
Most manufacturers, regardless of territory, are now heavily committed to fuel-saving systems of varying complexity, from fuel cells to ultra-efficient diesels. Smaller cars are also emerging, although there was still a high number of staid sedans, lumpen SUVs and drab minivans on display. The problem with industry slumps is that reporting downward trends tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Here’s our round-up of the most important - and most elegant - cars on show, the vehicles we believe will buck the trend and help steer the automobile to a slightly brighter future.