Made-for-TV spectacular reveals have (mercifully) fallen out of fashion, but Ford (Fortune 500) revisited old ways and made some dramatic updates. As a live guitar band blasted out a musical accompaniment, six welders brandishing what appeared to be live, spark-spewing torches were lowered from the ceiling in a steel-look grid resembling the skeleton of an office building. Once they reached the ground, the Atlas itself dropped out of the sky from a different spot on the arena ceiling. With its lightweight construction and fuel-saving features, the Atlas, a concept for the 2015 F-150, was well-reviewed and challenged , General Motors' (Fortune 500) coming 2014 trucks. And if the pickups don't work on the showroom floor, Ford can always open its own he-man production of Cirque de Soleil. ,
A look at what's in store for the world's automakers this year will tell a lot about what to expect for cars down the road.