Asian automakers probably got a bigger sales boost than their U.S. rivals from vehicles introduced at the annual New York auto show.
New models from Asia included Nissan's latest Maxima, and the Fit small car and Acura TSX sports sedan from Honda. South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. showed a two-door version of its Genesis premium car, while Toyota Motor Corp. had a coupe that may be added to its youth-oriented Scion brand.
Models from Kia Motors, Mazda and Subaru also drew raves.
The new-model count at the show mirrors the rising fortunes of the Asians in the Northeast, as well as the total U.S. market. Asian companies accounted for 10 of the 20 vehicles making their global or North American debuts, compared with two from U.S. automakers, according to the show's organizers. Eight of the new models were European makes.
''The New York show has lost some of the allure for U.S. brands that it once had,'' said George Magliano, a New York-based analyst for research firm Global Insight Inc. ''It's still the media capital, but the biggest introductions for them are in Detroit, Los Angeles and Geneva.''
The New York show was staged against the backdrop of an unsettled U.S. economy, in which consumers are spending less as prices for just about everything soar, including gasoline.
Toyota said it may miss its global sales target of 9.85 million vehicles this year as a strengthening Japanese yen makes its vehicles less competitive. The world's second largest automaker plans to boost sales in emerging markets such as China to offset slowing demand in the U.S. and Japan, said Vice President Tokuichi Uranishi.
''New York is still important,'' said Mark Fields, a Ford Motor Co. executive vice president.
U.S. automakers highlighted a handful of niche vehicles at the event, formally known as the New York International Auto Show. Ford displayed a prototype taxi version of a European commercial van that's scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in 2009. New York generates about 2,000 new cab sales annually.
''This year, we wanted to show something local more than anything else,'' Fields said.
Chrysler LLC showed off its full line of Dodge Challenger sports cars, while General Motors, the world's biggest automaker, introduced the Buick Riviera concept car, Pontiac's G8 coupe-pickup combo and Solstice Coupe, and the Chevy Volt. The vehicle is initially expected to be more of a showroom lure than a sales draw, said GM's Mark LaNeve.
Honda, by comparison, expects to sell at least 70,000 Fits this year, up from 56,432 in 2007. Next year ''we think with this new car we can do better,'' said Dick Colliver, of Honda, which expects as much as a 3 percent U.S. sales gain this year.
With consumer confidence shaky as oil hovers around $100 a barrel, ''our products are right in the sweet spot of the market, given the demand for better fuel efficiency, value and reliability,'' Colliver said.