DETROIT -- The glitz of the North American International Auto Show is returning in 2011, but the theme is still on efficiency.
The Detroit auto show struggled over the past two years with a decline in attendance from 2008 and automakers and suppliers pulling out of the 2009 and 2010 shows due to the economic collapse in 2008 that crippled the industry.
But marginal increases in traffic and sponsorship during the 2010 show are expected to continue this year as the industry rides the wave back to prosperity.
Nineteen new sponsors have signed on for the 2011 show, and 23 are returning from last year's show, according to its organizers.
Many of the new sponsors come from this year's new Michigan Economic Development Corp. Town Square and DTE Smarter Living exhibits.
The exhibits expand the show's previous EcoXperience exhibit by bringing in advanced technologies in electric vehicle charging stations, biofuels, home efficiency, LED lighting and solar and wind power.
"We're trying to showcase what's going on here in Michigan," said Bill Perkins, vice chairman of the Detroit show and president of Bill Perkins Automotive Group. "The state is progressing in a lot of different fields that people might not know about. This is meant to highlight these advancements."
Exhibitors include A123 Systems LLC, ALTe LLC, Azure Dynamics LLC, Builders.org, Albert Kahn & Associates, Cascade Renewable Energy, Current Motor Co., Danotek Motion Technologies, Dow Kokam, DTE Energy, Eco-Green Energy, Log Home Outfitters, LumaSmart, Lumecon, Sakti3, SPX Service Solutions, Swedish Biogas, University of Michigan, Ventower, Wellhome and PEP Stations LLC.
PEP Stations will display its electric vehicle charging stations throughout Cobo Center.
Getting to know more
Last year, PEP's auto show focus was on educating the public on vehicle electrification. This year, people understand and want to know more, said President Jim Blain.
"Now the people are connecting the dots and are interested in charging stations and vehicle range," he said. "So going forward, at all of our conferences and shows, we are going to be oriented in a different direction, more toward the sales of the product, not just educating the public."
A few automakers that ditched Detroit during the economic collapse are also returning to this year's show, including Germany's Porsche AG, which has announced it will unveil a never-before-seen model in Detroit.
Organizers are expecting 30-40 worldwide vehicle debuts during the show, including from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Hyundai.
Automakers introduced 37 production and concept vehicles at the 2010 show, including 27 worldwide debuts.
But Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce, Fisker and Suzuki are skipping the show again this year. Electric-vehicle maker BYD Corp. is the only Chinese automaker participating in the show. BYD expects to begin testing a fleet of electric vehicles in the U.S. in late 2011.
Space is spoken for
However, all 750,000 square feet of Cobo's floor space have been spoken for the 2011 Detroit show, with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. taking the most space.
Media and public attendance is expected to top last year's 714,137 public attendance and 4,536 media attendance, said Barron Meade, chairman of the show, at a media event in December.
"We are seeing evidence the industry is on an upswing," Meade said. "There is even more steel going up this year."
The show is open to the public Jan. 15-23.
For more information, go to www.naias.com.