We had the fortune of being General Motors’ guest to the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, and the world’s largest auto show was an eye opener in more ways the one. We got a first-look at the directions many auto manufacturers will be taking in the near future with their designs and drive technologies. Our experience was much like an abbreviated relationship. It began with a honeymoon phase– in awe at the sheer magnitude of the venue and the millions of visual effects– including mesmerizing light displays, gorgeous cars, and beautiful women (the kind every hetero man wants to fill his exotic sports car with). Then enter the dating portion"“ repeating the process of vehicle viewing and photo taking to the point where only something brand new and astounding would really satisfy our expectations. Then of course, the marriage: meeting with representatives from different car companies– designers, marketing heads, and executives. Usually it goes well, but it's a pretty short relationship at best, and in a blink of an eye it's over and you're back at home watching news snippets on CNN, feeling a sort of cautious optimism for the future of the auto industry. But all that aside, let us get to our top 3!

Lots more after the jump…


These cars were our three favorites. When I say ‘favorite,’ I mean from a forward thinking, design, eco-friendly perspective (you won’t find any Ferrari’s or Maybachs in here).

Number 3: a car that made us think heavily about the past and future promises of a company with which we are all familiar– GM and their Chevy Volt. The Volt is a truly American car, a muscle car of the future that draws plenty of influence from the Chevy Camaro Concept, as is seen in the front facade, as it sits with an amazingly athletic stance even with 4 doors. Highlights included a newly styled interior, which was a huge departure from anything we had seen before, and the implementation of GE designed materials such as the transparent roof stretching the full length of the vehicle. These materials serve a functional as well as aesthetic purpose, making the car strong and light to support what is the most innovative feature of the car "“ it is electric! The vehicle, no doubt taking influence from the sadly extinct EV1 powertrain, uses an electric engine to propell the car up to 40 miles per day on electricity alone. After that, a 1 liter 3 cylinder engine kicks in only to charge the electric engine, not drive the vehicle (which will then get a reported 50 mpg). This car represents a chance for GM and Chevy to do something truly great, but with no date set for production we aren't willing to give too many kudos yet. Will this car (or at least the implementation of E-Flex propulsion system be what GM needs to break its stigma? We sure hope so!

Number 2: the Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept. This aggressively styled super clean car of the future could be the successor to the Supra, Toyota's only true sports car in almost a decade (although the innards are more akin to a Prius on steroids). The styling of the vehicle truly brought out the best of the designers at Calty Design Research, Toyota’s design studio in Newport Beach, California"” the car featured a sharp triangular profile that is reapeated throughout the interior and exterior of the FT-HS. One of the most impressive features though was the implementation of a 400 HP powertrain based on Toyota's already noteworthy Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) System that will carry you from 0 "“ 60 mph in about 4 seconds. Toyota and their team at Calty Design Research are really pushing this next generation sports car into the limelight; we just can't wait until we can pull it into out garage.

Number 1: Last, but not least, our favorite car at the show came from an unexpected source: Saab. A jaw dropping beauty, the new SAAB Aero X Concept (pictured above) impressed us not only in its exterior styling, but in the inspiration of Saab's mantra, "Built form Jets". This flawless Sweede, long and smooth, features a 270-degree wrap around windshield allowing an unobstructed view from the cockpit. As you look at it in all its grandeur you realize there are no door handles, no visible way to enter the vehicle. Then POOF! The full mid-section of the car levitates from the body, pivoting forward on a frontmounted hinge, allowing you to climb in unobstructed and then settle in as the canopy descends and envelops you in a cacoon of superior styling and innovative instrumentation. The Aero X Concept may not go into production, but elements of it's styling are already trickling down the line to some of SAAB's vehicles like the massive wheels, 22" in front and 23" in the rear, which have been modeled after jet turbines. These wheels are not only beautiful, but use aerodynamics to draw cool air over the brakes as the wheel spins. We spent a lot of time with the Aero X Concept and we hope it forecasts the future of SAAB, a brand which has been previously been known for it's understated elegance and quality.

Here are some more photos of our top 3. Enjoy!

Saab Aero X, all opened up for business…

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Interior shot of the Saab Aero X…


Toyota FT-HS Hybrid (front)…

Toyota FT-HS Hybrid (rear)…

Chevrolet Volt Concept Car…

Chevy Volt rear shot…

Chevy Volt unveiling…