The Detroit auto show, Jan. 11-24, has historically been the event where automakers trumpet torque and horsepower. But car companies are engaged in a fierce battle this year over styling and integrated technology.
Whether it's multimedia interfaces, such as in the new Audi A8, which connects a driver's iPod and Google map directions seamlessly, or plans to modify OnStar technology for the Chevy Volt so that users' smartphones will control some vehicles' functions, automakers are using new launches and concept cars to show they have vehicles that make people's lives easier.
This year's show comes after a year when U.S. auto sales reached their lowest level in nearly three decades. The bankruptcies of two of Detroit's Big Three (Chrysler and General Motors), recalls and huge losses at Toyota sent a shockwave through the industry in 2009.
Hoping to attract customers whose perceptions of auto brands may have changed, car companies are using technology innovations to reposition their brands.
"It is about solutions now," Edmunds.com senior marketing analyst Stephen Berkov said. "It used to be if it's a luxury brand, it gives me status. Now, it's about can this brand solve my automotive solution because the problems that are coming up now is how do I make my life simple, seemless, smart."
ABC News' Kate McCarthy contributed to this report.
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