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Posted on Mon, Jan 11, 2010 : 4:08 p.m.

Starting my day at the Detroit auto show - and it's all about sustainable mobility

By David Kwan

In the tradition of every NAIAS show I’ve covered, the morning started with slick roads. I left Ann Arbor at 7 a.m. and did not slide into Detroit until 2 hours later, so I am sorry to say I missed the Ford presentation this morning. If I didn’t brave driving through some incredibly blighted neighborhoods, it could have been a 2 ½ hour ordeal.

But here I am at the North American International Automobile Show, and I'm finding there is no company is in the car and truck business anymore. All companies are now in the “sustainable mobility” business.

One example: While Toyota tries to figure out what to do with it’s declining Scion brand, aimed at hip young urban youth, Toyota announced today that the popular Toyota Prius, would become its own brand, embracing a full line of hybrid and electric vehicles.

So far today, the most overused product buzzword is the urban mobility segment. That is for subcompact format vehicles with oversize wheels guaranteed to give you a rough ride over gaping potholes and poorly maintained urban asphalt.

Virtually every COO's or EVP's opening remarks this morning started with with “Happy New Year!” That indicates how every manufacturer is glad that the incredible shrinking market of 2009 is behind them.

But there's no song and dance at the BMW booth this year. The singing moved over to the Mercedes Benz booth and the hip hop inspired dancing was taken up by VW. Mercedes introduced a beautiful new 300E convertible and it actually warmed my January chilled bones, but the klieg lighting at VW was too amped up.

It’s off to the Mini Cooper unveiling, guaranteed to be another sunny presentation. Will report more soon.

David Kwan, an Ann Arbor developer and self-described Car Nut, continues his annual coverage of Detroit's Auto Show for Ann Arbor Business Review.