Honda to show off two new vehicles at North American International Auto Show

With auto sales continuing to climb, the mood at the annual North American International Auto Show is expected to be good this year.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” analyst Jessica Caldwell of said in Tuesday conference call hosted by the consumer site previewing the event in Detroit next week, which is one of the U.S. auto industry’s biggest events of the year (and will be covered by yours truly via twitter and web Jan. 14 and 15).

For Honda Motor Co., whose manufacturing operations are based in Marysville, most of the attention is expected to come from the sport-utility vehicle segment, she said.

Honda (NYSE:HMC) will be showing off two new vehicles, the redesigned Acura MDX, which will be made in Alabama, and a concept version of a smaller SUV.

“I think it has a lot of promise because Honda excels in this area,” Caldwell said. “Something that is a bit on the smaller size has the potential to do quite well. It seems as if that is Honda’s sweet spot.”

She cited the company’s success with the compact Civic, top seller in its segment and the East Liberty-made crossover CR-V, also the top seller in its segment.

Of the top 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, only two are slated to launch redesigns. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) is expected to show off the concept version of the new F-150 truck at the event, while Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) is scheduled to unveil a concept compact car.

“That most likely will contain styling cues and hints for the next Corolla,” Caldwell said. “I’m curious to see where they take it.”

Corolla is the chief competitor to the Honda Civic in the compact segment.

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