Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the auto industry, several cool and cutting-edge cars were launched at the ongoing North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Here are some of them in words and images.

Chrysler 200C EV concept

Chrysler offered a glimpse of what an electric-powered sedan would look like with a new concept carcalled the 200C EV Concept. The four-door, rear-wheel drive sedan also could be made as a hybrid or with a six-cylinder engine.

The car’s interior is free of switches or levers, with functions managed via a panoramic touch screen and other interactive components.

Chrysler says it’s also adding the Jeep Patriot small SUV to its stable of proposed electric vehicles.

The company also has its electric prototype Dodge sports car, four-door Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler minivan on display.

Honda Insight Hybrid 2010

Honda unveiled its next-generation hybrid, the Insight, and said the car will arrive in U.S. showrooms this April. Honda’s much-anticipated car is expected to compete head-on with Toyota’s Prius, which remains the top-selling hybrid in the U.S. Honda said the 2010 Insight will have a lower price than the Civic Hybrid, which has a base price of $23,650 US.

The Insight, a five-door sedan, is modelled after Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel-cell car, the Japanese automaker said. Honda said the Insight will feature an onboard system, dubbed Eco Assist, designed to help drivers improve their fuel economy during trips.

Honda estimates the Insight’s driving range at more than 650 kilometres.

Lexus HS250h 2010
Lexus unveiled a new hybrid, saying it will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the luxury brand’s lineup.

The 2010 HS250h sedan, Lexus’ fourth hybrid, will be the first standalone gas-electric vehicle for Toyota’s luxury nameplate.

Lexus said the car will arrive at North American dealerships this summer. No EPA fuel economy rating has been assigned yet, but the carmaker said its city fuel economy rating will be better than that of the Smart fortwo two-seater.

2009 Mini Cooper

A 2009 Mini Cooper convertible drove out of a giant cube of fake ice blocks at Cobo Center to make its global debut.

The latest version includes a powered soft-top roof that allows the driver to open and close it while going up to 30 km/h.

The convertible also features an “Openometre” that records the time drivers spend travelling with the roof down.

Kia Soul’ster
Kia Motors made a pitch for the young and hip car shopper, introducing a funky open-air concept based on its upcoming Kia Soul.

Kia showed the Kia Soul’ster, an open-air utility vehicle designed to appeal to the youth market with seating for four.

The concept has a two-piece canvas top and fold-flat passenger and rear seats to provide additional storage space.

Following the Soul’ster unveiling, 20-somethings clad in white tossed beach balls into the crowd and the automaker served a beach-themed spread of Corona beer and Mexican food.

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