Auto Show displays take shape at Detroit's Cobo Center

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:49:01 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 12 2013 11:00:59 AM EST
DETROIT -

You can almost tell time by the Auto Show cars at Cobo Center.

On Monday, the cars weren't even there. On Friday, they were covered. But next week the vehicles will gleam under the Cobo Center spotlights.

The double-decker stands of yesteryear are back and the competition for guests' undivided attention is getting tougher.

Nissan went at this seriously with a halo-themed amphitheater. Unlike other displays where, say, an orange road sign is wired to hang from the ceiling, Nissan used cantilevered aluminum -- an engineering balancing act.

"It kind of leans out over here and as it leans out it bends the material itself, bends slightly so you got this kind of curve which you encounter," said Edmund Sorrell, a George P. Johnson design engineer.

Joel McCall says they will put a green tea scent in the air and act like a high-end retail store.

"The scent helps. That the people, the way they're talking to you, the way they're greeting you, the way they're acting -- that helps much like retail environment," said McCall.

Downstairs in Michigan Hall there is a fountain at the heart of the ride and drive. Car companies will offer 20 different emission-free vehicles this year. DADA CEO Rod Alberts says theses are all signs of an epic comeback.

"Don't you love that when you're on the mat and you get back up and you win the fight? So, this year the numbers are so good across the board, everything is up, everything's bigger -- more media, more suppliers, more sponsors -- and it tells us they want to be here in Detroit, in January," he said.