Six Hottest Cars at the Detroit Auto Show

Tickers in this article: F GM HMC TM

Perhaps Chevrolet wanted to focus all its attention on its new Corvette, which will be unveiled at a special event on Sunday night, before the doors to the auto show open.

Corvette only sold 14,132 units in 2012, but "anytime there's a new Corvette, it's a big deal," Hellwig said. "It's not a high volume car, but it's a halo car for GM and a showcase for GM technology. Everybody knows the Corvette name."

Speaking to reporters, something he rarely does, at a gathering in Detroit on Wednesday, GM CEO Dan Akerson said of the new Corvette: "I think (it) will be one of the beautiful cars ever made."

The 2012 Corvette is pictured above. Toyota Furia

Toyota (TM) will debut its Furia concept on Monday afternoon with a unique presentation, a custom-built structure housing 30 of Samsung Display's new 46-inch transparent LCD screens. This is what it takes to catch anyone's eye at an auto show media day, where one can easily be trapped, unable to see anything, in a hoard of journalists, all of whom seem to have arrived earlier than you did.

By the way, the requirement to be considered a "journalist" for the purpose of attending the Detroit Auto Show media day is to have written three stories during the past year, so the barrier to entry is not high, especially given that most actual newspaper reporters, admittedly a dying breed, have written three stories during the past day. Toyota said it will be "the first automotive company to use this (Samsung) technology to reveal a vehicle at a major international auto show."

Ed Hellwig said the Furia is "thought to be a lightly massaged version of what will be the Corolla," which is a very high volume car in the very important compact car segment, where the Honda (HMC) Civic, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra all compete for consumers who are focused on good gas mileage. VW Crossover

Hellwig said he believes that VW will unveil a mid-sized crossover vehicle at the show.

VW has been growing in the U.S, where its 2012 sales rose 35% to 438,134. It spent $1 billion to build a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The VW Passat is built at the plant, which opened in April 2011.

The mid-sized crossover segment "is one of the last segments where VW doesn't yet compete in the U.S. and it's a segment they have hinted at entering," Hellwig said. "VW has all of its top executives coming over from Germany, and they don't come over here for nothing." The new vehicle could replace the Touareg (pictured), although it would be slightly larger: it is also possible that VW will keep the Touareg.