( dpa )- After a more than week-long press preview, more than 1,000 auto enthusiasts lined up Saturday morning for the public opening of the annual Detroit auto show.
They will get the first live glimpses of a new generation of automobiles with the emphasis on green technology that have been unveiled during the press preview week. The show ends January 27.
The Detroit News reported online that the tiny Mercedes Smart FourTwo exhibit drew lots of attention.
"It's nice, but it's small. I guess it would be a good car if you didn't have to fit anyone in it," Reginald Hollis, 17, was quoted as saying.
Carl Galeana , senior show chairman for the North American International Auto Show, said in a statement: "We are expecting a very strong show." He noted that more than 75 per cent of the new models were worldwide unveilings.
Automakers are displaying an array of environmentally friendly technologies, including extremely efficient gasoline motors, diesel engines, hybrids of all sorts and variations on those themes.
But luxury items were not in short supply, such as a Rolls Royce Phantom convertible with a newly added top that sells for as little as 250,000 dollars. Rolls Royce increased sales by 25 per cent in 2007, delivering 1,010 cars worldwide and breaking 1,000 for the first time, Rolls chairman and chief executive Ian Robertson said this week.
Honda Motor Company used the press preview to announce it would expand its hybrid lineup over the next three years, including a model that is priced below the Civic hybrid.
GM introduced an ethanol-adapted "green" version of its heavy gas- guzzling military-style truck derivative, the Hummer, coupled with an announcement of a partnership in a bio-fuel company - part of GM's efforts to raise its image as a company trying to reduce the carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
GM plans to bring 16 new hybrid models onto the market within four years, and also revealed it would buy a stake in bio-fuel company Coskata Inc, a pioneer in efforts to convert waste into cheap ethanol.
In other developments at the show this week, China's Changfeng and Geely put their feet forward towards tapping the US auto market.
Geely Holding Group Co, China's largest privately-owned automaker, intends to stake an initial investment of 500 million dollars on a factory in Mexico to produce models for the US.
State-owned Changfeng Group Co Ltd plans to enter the US market sometime in 2009, and could assemble its models in the United States, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Changfeng Chairman Li Jianxin said through a translator that the company had the technology for the US market but wanted to know more about US consumer needs.
Changfeng unveiled two new hatchback models, the Liebao CS7 and the Kylin .
Toyota said it was committed to bringing plug-in hybrids on the market by 2010. Toyota has so far focussed on gasoline-electric hybrids like the world's best-selling Prius , but has recently turned its attention to plug-ins along the lines of the plans laid out by GM.