Detroit Show Offers Glimpse of the Future

Detroit Show Offers Glimpse of the Future

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North American International Auto Show Highlights

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)–once known as the Detroit Auto Show–begins today, offering two days of extensive press coverage before doors swing open to the public on Friday. The Detroit event, one of several large scale regional auto shows in the country, is important as it showcases numerous new product debuts.

NAIASBesides, with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler headquartered nearby, Detroit gets its chance to shine in the midst of a frigid Michigan winter, something the “Big Three” automakers take full advantage of.

This year will be no exception as hundreds of cars will be on display including several making their world debuts. Most major automakers who sell in the US will have multiple vehicles on hand for review by journalists invited from around the world. Media professionals will have an opportunity to interview automotive executives, broadcast their findings to the world, and hobknob with each other.

Once media has moved on, the floor of the Cobo Center will be transformed for public viewing. That will be your opportunity to see first hand what automakers have planned for the next few years.

Of course, not too many of our readers live within driving distance of Detroit, so making a visit to the Motor City won’t be on their list of “things to do” between now and January 24, the date that the NAIAS draws to a close. However, if you live near any major city, the auto show tour will be in your area in the coming months, with many of the same cars displayed in Detroit showcased locally.

After selling just 10.5 million new cars last year compared to 17 million units annually in the early 2000s, automakers are eager to put the past behind them and focus squarely on the future. A sense of urgency has gripped the industry, manufacturers who are pouring tens of billions of dollars into bringing forth the following types of cars:

Pure electric vehicles – Science fiction has now been transformed into reality as automakers have perfected the necessary technologies allowing cars to run on pure electric power. The Nissan Leaf will debut by year’s end and Ford will roll out an electric version of its Transit Connect van this summer.

The highlight of the show will be the Chevy Volt, a car that will supplement its lithium-ion battery pack with a small gasoline engine in order to extend its range. The NAIAS has a 37,000 square foot ‘Electric Avenue’ exhibit for showcasing several models and related technologies.

New compact cars – It remains to be seen whether consumers will embrace them, but that isn’t stopping car manufacturers from bolstering their line ups with cars that are smaller than what many motorists prefer to drive today.

An all new Ford Fiesta subcompact will be introduced by early summer as will the compact Chevy Cruze, a world car that GM hopes will help that automaker pick up market share. The big difference with these vehicles is that they will be better equipped than cars of its kind in the past, offering 40 mpg highway driving.

Flashy concept vehicles – Every major car show has a number of surprises which are sometimes leaked out in advance, but are almost always reserved for the press days alone. This year will be no exception with several concept vehicles which will give lookers a good idea of where cars are headed in the future.

In cabin wireless, self parking cars, cars that drive themselves, data boxes similar to the black boxes found in aircraft, cars made from materials grown on the farm, and other odd sounding stuff will be on display. How many of these things will be produced? Almost all – changes are underfoot right now that will even change your perception of what a car is and how you use it. Imagine recycling some or all of the car you buy come 2015. Sounds crazy, but it will soon become a reality.

Enjoy the show, whether you’re in Detroit or viewing highlights from computer or flat screen TV.

Source: NAIAS

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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".