Has the Detroit Motor Show Lost its Mojo?

With the U.S auto market catching momentum in 2010, most of us had high expectations for this year's edition of the North American International Auto Show. And while Porsche's comeback to the show after a four-year hiatus was a welcome addition, the absence of key players such as Nissan, Infiniti and Mazda continues to worry.

But even the companies that did take part in the show didn't really impress with their offerings. The fact that the first press day was more than enough for the participating [mainstream] brands to announce their new production and concept models at the Cobo Center, says a lot about this year's event.

In fact, if it weren't for the Koreans and Japanese, the 2011 Detroit Salon would have been as exciting as the Brussels motor show... Hyundai and Kia led the way with the Veloster and two more concept crossovers followed by Toyota which expanded its Prius family with a minivan and showcased a concept for a smaller hatchback model, while Honda revealed pre-production prototypes of its next generation Civic.

And how about Detroit's Big Three? Well, GM showed the new Buick Verano and Chevrolet Sonic(s) alongside a prototype version of the GMC Sierra. Ford displayed the Focus EV and hybrid variants of the C-MAX together with the oddly named Vertrek study, while Chrysler's stand featured the redesigned 300 and Mopar variants of the 200 sedan and Fiat 500. Where are the eye-popping American concept models? Where's Cadillac? Where's Lincoln?

The European or rather the German carmakers opted to keep most of their newcomers for the rapidly approaching Geneva Salon as the only noteworthy presentations concern the U.S. market 2012 VW Passat, Audi A6, BMW 1 Series M Coupe and 650i Convertible, MINI Paceman study and Porsche's 918 RSR Coupe concept.

And there you have it; in three short paragraphs the most notable debuts of the 2011 Detroit Show.

Economic woes aside, another reason that Detroit is steadily losing its role as one of the top players in the international motor show scene could be that many automakers are spreading their new model debuts over more shows in North America, namely the New York and Los Angeles events, both of which experienced increased numbers of world premieres in the past couple of years.

Share your thoughts about this year's edition of the Detroit Motor Show, and what you believe about its future in the comments section below.

By John Halas