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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seven surprises on day one of the 2010 Detroit Auto Show

By Jonathan Oosting |

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit opened its doors to the press Monday with big news from several automakers. Here's a look at seven surprise announcements and reveals.
1.  Toyota goes 8-bit with FT-CH concept

Referencing the car's 8-bit styling, Toyota on Monday unveiled their new FT-CH compact hybrid with a retro video and soundtrack, evoking past Japanese innovations in the video game industry.

While it remains a concept car at this point, U.S. President Jim Lentz said the FT-CH could be the first entry in the Toyota's upcoming family of Prius vehicles.

If produced, Toyota says the FT-CH would likely cost less than the Prius, which starts at $22,000, providing the Chevy Volt with some stiff competition. (Photo gallery) PhotoFord Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm speak Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.2. Michigan steals Ford jobs from Mexico as Focus goes electric

Ford dominated the headlines Monday at the Detroit Auto Show, announcing an additional $4.5 million investment in Michigan as it plans to build an electric version of it's popular Focus at the Michigan Assembly facility in Wayne.

The investment could produce up to 1,000 jobs according to Chairman Bill Ford Jr.

To produce the Focus Electric, Ford will move it's battery development in-house and shift production from Mexico to the Mitten State.

"There's a new spirit here," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said at a press conference announcing the development, "because we know the auto industry is back." (More)

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., got star treatment Monday at the Detroit Auto Show, touring the floor with the likes of new Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne and Gov. Granholm.

"We've come to Michigan, come to Detroit, to see, listen and observe," she said.  "We go back with great optimism."

And like the governor of her state, she promised she'll be back. (More)

4. Tea Party for two: Local tea party limits turnout at protest

A national tea party group hoped to stage a large-scale protest of 'Government Motors' on Monday outside the Detroit Auto Show, but relatively few people showed up.

Joan Fabiano, an activist who organizes local tea parties, urged supporters via email not to show up, writing that such a protest could hurt business in the state.

It seems many followed his lead. (More)

5. From SUV to UUV? GMC unveils Granite concept

GMC launched it's Monday press conference with the new Granite concept, which Executive Director of Design Dave Lyon called an urban utility vehicle.

Lyon said he hopes the Granite, which is two feet shorter than the Terrain, will "redefine GMC." (More)

Ford began the Detroit Auto Show with a bang, sweeping the 2010 Car and Truck of the Year at the morning awards ceremony.

A jury of 49 veteran automotive journalists voted the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect the best car and truck of the year, respectively.

It was only the third time in the history of the awards that one automaker took home both honors. (More)

7.  Volkswagen unveils flashy NCC with flash dancers

Volkswagen took home Monday's honors for the most unusual reveal, hiring a group of male dancers to peel away panels hiding the automaker's gas-electric two-door hybrid concept.

While the dancers drew a few guffaws, the New Concept Coupe did not.

Powered by 27-hp electric and 150-hp gasoline engines, the NCC could get up to 45 mpg while going from 0-60 in 8.1 seconds, according to the automaker. (More)