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Thu 1 Feb 2007 12:00 AM

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How to spend it

New models and ideas were out in force at the recent motor show in Detroit.

The Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld weren’t the only major events happening Stateside in January. Head to Detroit and you would have caught the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the biggest car show the US has to offer, now in its 100th year. That means new cars, big announcements, and some of the craziest concept cars you’re likely to see anywhere in the world.

For tech-fans, the biggest announcement had to be from Ford, and news that it was teaming up with Microsoft to create some of the cleverest in-car gadgetry yet.

Dubbed the Sync system, the technology was announced in a presentation by Ford that featured a live satellite link-up with Microsoft head honcho Bill Gates over in Vegas for CES. Sync technology could feature in Ford cars by the end of the year, using Bluetooth to link devices like a mobile phone or MP3 player instantly to the car’s audio system, making calls, playing music or reading aloud text messages.

There were plenty of new cars too, like the 600 bhp Dodge Viper SRT10, new look Ford Focus (which incidentally features the Sync technology) and Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe.

Daimler Chrysler also announced that it would be launching the Smart car in the US, which is sure to look amusing when parked next to some of the ridiculously-sized Yank Tanks.

But for every new car launched, there seemed to be another 20 or so concept cars. Brands from Acura to Volvo all seemed to have at least one or two on display.

For some it was the angular, aggressive stance that made them special, while for others it was what they kept under the bonnet or featured in terms of in-car technology.

And who could forget the B-list celebs? Every show simply has to have them, but it appears that Detroit lost out this year, with many of the bigger names heading over to Las Vegas and helping to push the brands at the Consumer Electronics Show. This meant that while Detroit did OK with the likes of Desperate Housewives starlet Eva Longoria and pin-up Carmen Electra, names like Christian Slater and Jessica Simpson’s ex Nick Lachey failed to impress. At least there was no danger of them drawing attention away from the cars…

Concept cars

Kia Kue

This concept was designed by Peter Schreyer – the guy responsible for the Audi TT. If there are similarities, the split gull-wing doors aren’t among them. We like the Knight Rider-esque controls, though, and the seats up front that swivel to let driver and passengers in.

Jeep Trailhawk

The idea behind this Trailhawk is to combine the core off-roading capability of Jeep models like the Wrangler with luxury features of models like the Grand Cherokee. Features include a three-panel removable glass roof, and removable rear speakers that you can take away for use with your iPod.

Chevrolet Volt

No prizes for guessing that the Volt is an electric car concept. Drive it home and plug it into the wall socket overnight to ensure it’s fully charged. On electricity alone the Volt has a range of 60 km, and once that is used up a one-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine spins at a constant speed to create electricity and replenish it.

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