The 2010 North American Auto Show promised to be a breath of fresh air after the financial crisis that gave the U.S. automotive industry stilts to stand on.

There were the usual launches of American market cars like that of the the upcoming Buick Regal, Lincoln MKX and Cadillac XTS, along with the manufacturer's innovative concepts for future cars. Toyota had the Prius Plug-In Hybrid on display (not for sale to customers) as well as the FT-CH concept car, CH for compact hybrid. It displays the shape of things to come for the world number one, and could be an allusion to a hybrid coupe in the future.

Honda of America, on the other hand, already have the production version of their new CR-Z sport hybrid. From a style standpoint, it definitely takes cues from the much-loved CR-X from the late 80's to the early 90's, and furthermore, is powered by the latest incarnation of Honda's hybrid system like the one in the Insight. The powerplant is a 1.5 liter unit coupled with a 10 kilowatt electric motor, producing a combined 122 hp and 128 pound-feet of torque.

Former mainstays but now absentees from the auto show were the former General Motors brands: Saturn, Saab (in limbo), Pontiac and Hummer. GMC was on hand to display their concept for the highly competitive crossover SUV segment with the Granite, aimed at cars like the Ford Flex and Kia Soul, among others. Volkswagen made an appearance with the New Compact Coupe concept which takes a few design cues from its cousins at Audi.

A new arrival is Lancia with the new Delta, albeit badged as a Chrysler. One of the most anticipated launches (and the most relevant for the Philippine market) has to be the next generation of the Ford Focus in both hatchback and sedan form factors, which the company claims will provide customers with more affordable technologies and features than ever in this segment, as well as detailed craftsmanship, outstanding fuel economy and a new standard for driving quality. The new Focus will be nearly identical in all markets, with 80 per cent parts commonality around the world, and is rumored for a 2012 launch for the Philippine market.

The 2010 North American International Auto Show gave us a glimpse of what the manufacturers are doing to recover from the crisis. From what we can see, the innovation has come more from the Japanese and European brands, with only one of the U.S. Big Three (that's Ford) coming out with something that reflects true innovation for a global market in the Focus. Chrysler and General Motors still have a bit to go, and perhaps the 2011 NAIAS will be a better indicator of what they have in store for the future.