Expect electrified vehicles to have a prominent place at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but there also will be an undercurrent of uncertainty.

Padded by some 15 electric vehicle manufacturers, the exhibitor list will be longer than last year’s. As many as 60 auto makers will display their technology, about 10 more than the total for 2008.

But hometown brands such as Pontiac and Saturn will be absent, victims of the Chapter 11 filing that spawned General Motors Co., while perennial spotlight-grabbers Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep have chosen to bow out of the already shortened press-conference schedule.

“You’re not going to see as much glitz and glamour this year,” concedes Detroit Auto Dealers Assn. President Bill Perkins.

Some 40 international or North American vehicle debuts are planned, compared with 53 in 2009.

In GM’s second major show since bankruptcy, Chevrolet will unveil an RS-badged Aveo subcompact while revealing more features of its Volt extended-range electric vehicle. But, in another notable absence, the redesigned Malibu midsize car will not make its debut.

A new product from Buick also will bow at the show, while Cadillac and GMC each will provide world premieres of new concept vehicles. In addition, Cadillac will unveil the high-performance CTS-V Coupe, and GMC shows its Acadia Denali large luxury cross/utility vehicle.

Cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. tugs at the heartstrings of muscle-car aficionados by pulling the sheet off its next-generation Focus and the ’11 Ford Mustang GT.

While low on all-new vehicles, Chrysler promises to keep consumers engaged with upgrades of selected models. The auto maker also is the only Big Six OEM that will feature an additional brand: Ram.

The marque was spun off from the Dodge brand as a means of showcasing truck products with commercial applications.

Chrysler’s one-time sister brand, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, tops off its display with the debut of the E-Class Cabriolet. Its soft top promises “unique” sound-dampening technology and other attributes to afford year-round comfort.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. will unveil the production version of its CR-Z hybrid sports car, while Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. will show a new dedicated hybrid-electric concept vehicle.

For the second consecutive year, brands such as Nissan and Mitsubishi will be missing from the main show floor, but they will display their respective EVs, the Leaf and the i-MiEV.

EVs from auto makers ranging from ZAP to Tesla Motors Inc. will have their own stage, dubbed “Electric Avenue.”

“What we want to do is to expose these (EV) manufacturers now,” Perkins tells Ward’s. “Electric vehicles are going to play a very important part in the future of the automotive industry, so why not start to focus on it now?”

– with James M. Amend and Christie Schweinsberg

emayne@wardsauto.com