The annual North American International Auto Show, or NAIAS, is one of the premier auto shows in the world and one that kicks off the auto show season here in the U.S.

Although the show’s press days are always well-attended by industry professionals, this year’s profusion of critical unveilings makes an appearance this year mandatory.  

To begin with, Ford and Honda will show redesigned versions of their mid-size car combatants, the Fusion and Accord Coupe “concept” (Honda’s concepts are historically close to production spec).  Both brands have something to prove in the hyper-competitive 1.8M unit per year segment.  For its part, Honda wants to regain the position of prominence it held before the Japanese earthquake derailed production, while Ford wants to retain – and build upon – the market share it gained in the segment last year.  Considering that mid-size sedan sales comprise 13.5% of all new sales, the importance of an appealing new design can’t be overstated.

Over at Dodge, the brand is finally set to launch what appears to be a legitimate small car contender in the Dart.  Based on a Fiat/Alfa Romeo platform, Dodge sorely needs the Dart to be the success that the expired Caliber wasn’t if it wants to keep its 2011 sales momentum going. 

Luxury debuts will abound as well.  Cadillac is scheduled to unveil their new luxury compact sedan called the ATS, Mercedes is going to show off what has to be the 100th generation of the SL (the thing has been around for 50 years), and Porsche will provide the first hands-on view of the new 911 Cabrio. 

Considering that there will be more than 50 production and concept debuts, there simply isn’t enough space in what is supposed to be a short blog to discuss them all. 

Luckily a cadre of NADA’s analysts will be dutifully attending each press conference (well, most anyway) at the show between January 9 – 10th (next Monday and Tuesday) and reporting their impressions through both our Twitter and Facebook pages.

So please keep an eye out for posts throughout the course of the event and feel free to hit us up with any questions or comments that you have concerning the show!