North American Int’l Auto ShowDETROIT – Although the Premier Automotive Group has been a money-loser for Ford Motor Co., its presentation at the North American International Auto Show bespeaks its never-say-die confidence.

The group includes Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin brands.

PAG's music here was louder and edgier and light presentations were brighter and more manic, carrying a hefty punch of authority.

Among the group's unveils was the C30 Volvo design concept, a cross/utility targeting a “young, dynamic audience,” The C30 CUV, with a sloping roofline and large glass hatch, seats four, with two individual seats in the rear. It is built on Ford’s C1 platform, which is shared with the Mazda3 and Volvo S40 and V50 models.

The concept is powered by a 2.4L 5-cyl. turbocharged engine that makes 260 hp.

Volvo’s C30 CUV targets young professional couple.

The C30 is part of a “glimpse of our life in the fast lane,” says Fredrik Arp, president of Volvo Cars Corp., promising the design concept closely reflects the production model to be unveiled officially in Paris in September.

Aston Martin, meanwhile, showed its Rapide concept to an ethereal opera soundtrack, revealing a dramatic 4-door powered by the DB9’s V-12 mated to a ZF Touchtronic gearbox.

Land Rover, whose sales carried PAG last year, did not show new products at this year’s auto show.

Jaguar Cars, bolstered in December by a reported cash infusion of €7 billion ($2.1 billion), rolled out the convertible version of its '07 XK sports car.

The coupe will be priced from £58,955 ($75,500) and the convertible will start at £64,955 ($81,500). The aluminum-bodied car went into production in December. (See related story: Jaguar Unveils New XK )

“We are taking structural costs out,” promises Jaguar Managing Director Bibiana Boerio, who says Jaguar is looking to expand its diesel range in Europe.

For all the splash and splendor of the unveils here, overlooked is the fact PAG in 2005 suffered a third-quarter pre-tax loss of $108 million. Jaguar’s 2005 U.S. sales, alone, dropped 33.7% to 45,875 units.

PAG is “taking steps to drive costs down,” says Lewis Booth, executive vice president overseeing Ford of Europe and PAG, adding that “2006 will be the tipping point.”

Ford already has begun cutting production of its Jaguar line by 7%, as it also moves to trim Volvo’s workforce by 5.3%.(See related story: Ford Scaling Back Volvo and Jaguar Production )

stmiller@primediabusiness.com