Hottest New Debuts at the Detroit Auto Show

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Like many auto shows, Detroit’s North American International Auto Show has been around for more than a century, serving as a staging ground for the comings and goings of the automotive industry. This year, much of the hullabaloo surrounded a punchbowl of power – from the all-new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 to the all-new 2020 Toyota Supra. But fast and fun fuel-swillers are not the driving force of our mobility future.

High efficiency and zero emissions remain the subjects of discussion when it comes to future vehicles. Listed below in alphabetical order are some of the Motor City’s more interesting hybrid and electric debuts. Although a majority are concept cars, they all offer insight into automakers’ plans and provide a sneak peek at how technology will shape their future lineups.

Cadillac EV Concept

Cadillac electric SUV concept vehicle
Cadillac’s first all-electric vehicle will sit on a brand-new General Motors electric vehicle architecture. (Cadillac)

What is it?

Cadillac surprised the motoring contingent with a preview of its first-ever battery electric vehicle (BEV). Although it has no official name, the released images depict a crossover SUV. Cadillac will be the first of the General Motors family to implement the company’s future EV platform, which will be configurable in design and development in order to meet global consumer preferences and the automaker’s different brand requirements.

Why is it hot?

For a first attempt, the Cadillac EV is as sleek a design as they come. Details such as proportions were not released, but images suggest a 4-door CUV with a Cadillac-trademark long hood and grille. The fact that Cadillac will lead GM’s all-electric future shows a commitment to the brand, as its lineup adjusts to market demands with more SUVs (hi, XT4 and XT6) and fewer sedans (bye, ATS and CTS). Coupled with Cadillac’s well-received Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system, this EV concept is one we are looking forward to in production form.

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid

Blue 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid
The sixth-generation Ford Explorer adds a hybrid model to its 2020 lineup. With an estimated 500-plus miles of range and the latest in driver assist technologies, the all-new hybrid should help the Explorer nameplate continue as a top-selling performer. (Ford)

What is it?

America’s all-time best-selling SUV finally gets a hybrid. The all-new Ford Explorer Hybrid joins the redesigned model lineup, which now rides on an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform. Outfitted with a 3.3-liter hybrid engine and an all-new 10-speed transmission, the Explorer Hybrid produces 318 total-system combined horsepower and is EPA-estimated to have more than 500 miles of range. All-wheel drive is available, and the full 2020 Explorer lineup will go on sale this summer.

Why is it hot?

With more capability, more technology, and more options, the 2020 Ford Explorer looks to continue its sales-chart reign – especially with a mere $400 increase in its base price compared to the outgoing model. Available with Limited trim, the Explorer Hybrid will come standard with Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+, which includes segment-exclusive driver-assistance technologies like intelligent adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition and evasive steering assist.

GAC Motor Entranze Concept

GAC Motors Entranze Concept Detroit
The Entranze is GAC Motor’s first concept vehicle to be developed in the United States. (Beverly Braga)

What is it?

As the only Chinese automaker ever to attend the Detroit auto show, in its fifth appearance in the Motor City GAC Motor introduced the Entranze – its first-ever concept vehicle designed exclusively in the U.S. Referred to as a “hyper family car,” the 7-seat Entranze targets American consumers with high-tech, high fashion, and high accessibility from the inside out. GAC, with a robust lineup of cars and crossovers, hopes to start selling vehicles stateside starting in 2020.

Why is it hot?

At first blush, the Entranze looks like a minivan ready for space exploration, but its goals are far more terrestrial. For example, the concept vehicle reintroduces old-school features, like a front bench seat, into a new school of technology, such as a gesture-controlled user interface and hidden infotainment displays. Multi-purpose features like rocker panels that double as seats and removable in-vehicle storage that converts into backpacks equally inspire disconnecting from screens and reconnecting with the outdoors.

Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept

Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept
Infiniti’s latest QX concept vehicle, which features minimalist design and proliferation of customizable display screens, is a precursor to the automaker’s first EV. (Infiniti)

What is it?

A midsize SUV concept, the Infiniti QX Inspiration is a preview of the automaker’s first EV and hints at a new design language from the brand. Infiniti ended 2018 with crossover SUV sales up 5.1% year over year, which makes it a no-brainer that its first-ever BEV would compete in that segment. Production timing was not available, but Infiniti’s EV future would be built on an all-new platform that can also accommodate an electric all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

Why is it hot?

With no engine or drivetrain to deal with, designers have more creative freedom, especially interior-wise. The QX Inspiration features a modern, lounge-like cabin dominated by a pillar-to-pillar wide customizable dashboard display screen and secondary monitors, like one embedded within the steering wheel. Interestingly, the rear is devoid of displays, offering passengers a more relaxing, screen-free experience.

Nissan IMs Concept

Nissan IMs Concept Front
The Nissan IMs is the automaker’s third autonomous EV concept as it announced plans to add seven EV models to its lineup by 2022. (Nissan)

What is it?

No stranger to the EV market thanks to its Leaf compact hatchback, Nissan raises its all-electric game with the IMs concept. A sleek, AWD sports sedan, the IMs concept gives Nissan’s current “V-motion” design language a futuristic flair. Described as an “elevated” sports sedan, the higher profile of the IMs offers up a large cabin with a unique 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Featuring fully autonomous driving capability, the IMs has an output of 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque. Its 115-kWh battery is estimated to provide 380 miles of range.

Why is it hot?

In a market led by SUV and truck sales, Nissan going the sedan route with its IMs concept shows that automakers aren’t giving up on cars just yet. The IMs follows in the footsteps of Nissan’s previous autonomous EV concepts, the IDs and IMx, which debuted in 2015 and 2017, respectively. With the automaker announcing plans to launch seven new EV models by 2022, a fair assumption is that design and technology elements from its concepts will eventually trickle down into its production models.

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