More power, glitz, organic food and smiles

Workers ready a sign to tout the new Mazda6 mid-sized sedan at the Detroit auto show.

Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS
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DETROIT -- Another year, another Detroit auto show and another slew of changes.

Automakers are scheduled to showcase about 55 new vehicles, 41 of them global debuts, at the 2013 show that opens with press previews next week. That is up more than 30 percent from the 42 vehicles introduced in 2012, show organizers say.

Style and performance are back in fashion this year -- see the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette -- along with a major dose of infotainment, connectivity and active safety and driver assist technologies.

For those keeping track, the show floor will have some new faces and features.

Jaguar Land Rover is back. Nissan and Infiniti promise more pizazz and aroma. The stand will feature a distinct fragrance that Nissan says may be used at dealerships if reaction is positive.

Cadillac has bolted from the GM family and relocated to the luxury end of the show.

Fisker, scrambling for new funding and battery supplies, will be a no-show this year.

Suzuki, which has bailed out of the United States, will never be back. Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group will be here with plans to make some product news. Mazda will be pitching diesels.

The Toyota stand, like its U.S. market share, has grown into the automaker's biggest Detroit display ever at 35,000 square feet and room for 34 cars, minivans, trucks and crossovers.

At the Chevrolet stand, for the first time, you can check out cars and trucks with names like Onix, Spin, Trax, Sail and Orlando that you won't ever find in a U.S. showroom. Chevy wants to flex its global muscles.

And expect more glitz this year.

At the Lexus stand, LED panels on the floor will be covered with white etched glass and glow red to bring attention to the luxury brand's performance vehicles.

Detroit's People Mover -- shrouded in the all-new 2014 Silverado for the 2013 Detroit auto show.

And all signs point to an old fashioned pickup brawl -- on and off the main show floor. GM has wrapped a few of the Detroit People Mover trains to resemble the redesigned 2014 Silverado pickup towing a horse trailer. Ford is gearing up to offer a sneak peek at its future F-series pickup with a new concept.

Off the main floor, food service has gone natural and local, when possible, in the concourse -- perhaps in an appeal to the international journalists and visitors in town.

Show organizers have launched an app, and the much-needed improvements to Cobo Center continue with the new glass atrium, where the North American car and truck of the year will be crowned Monday.

Perhaps most important, with Europe in a severe slump, expect a few more smiles from industry executives this year as the biggest show unfolds in North America, where sales and output are forecast to keep rising.

You can reach David Phillips at dphillips@crain.com.

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