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Jealous George – No Detroit Auto Show This Year

North American International Auto Show Logo

An annual pilgrimage for the auto industry is to attend the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit each January.  Unfortunately, this year I cannot attend because my physicians caution that I should not be heaving carry-ons into and out of overhead bins and baggage carousels.

So, I’m jealous.

One of the primary businesses of AutoPacific is to keep on top of what is the latest in the auto industry worldwide, so AutoPacific will still be well represented at Detroit.

I asked each of our staff members to remind me why I should or should not be jealous of them attending instead of me.  Read below the break for their input.

Dan Hall, Vice President, Marketing at AutoPacific:

Top reasons why George should be jealous:

  • Acura ILX sedan.  Don’t laugh.  If any design team is painted into a corner it’s Acura.  Its been so long since we’ve seen a pretty Acura that this design could definitely be classified as make or break.
  • Cadillac ATS Sedan: No automotive term inspires more yawns than the term “3 Series Fighter”  But given what we have seen from Cadillac over the past few years, perhaps our eyes will be wide open at this launch.
  • Ford Fusion: Ford is promising that the styling of the 2013 Fusion is a game changer breaking the mold of the typical mid-size car.  The all new Escape styling looks great (even though the evergreen first generation Escape set sales records for 2011).  If the Fusion redesign is anything as successful, we may have a real race in this segment.  Will Fusion pass Accord in 2012?
  • Nissan Pathfinder:  First of all, I’m glad to see Nissan back in Detroit.  The empty, carpeted, pipe and drape black hole at COBO in the past was almost as depressing as the fiberglass EVs.  Seeing the transition of the (almost iconic) Pathfinder to unit body will be interesting.   Ford did it with the Explorer in style.
  • Dodge Dart:  Dart replaces Caliber?  Not sure I get it.  So why is this interesting?  OK perhaps it’s the boomer in me.  I love the name. (GCP – Dodge Darts from the late ’60s were great cars.  Especially when powered by the Chrysler 340 cubic inch V8.  The base cars were powered by a slant six that was absolutely bulletproof).
  • SLOWS Barbeque – Hyundai Motor America media party
  • SLOWS Barbeque – Hyundai Motor America media party

Why George should not be jealous:

  • George’s house in Orange County – Sunny – 84 degrees yesterday.  Views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina island.  Perhaps lunch on the deck?
  • DTW — Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the mid 30s.
  • COBO’s fluorescent lighting.
  • Getting to and from COBO.
  • Getting to and from DTW.

Ed Kim, Director, Industry Analysis, AutoPacific:

The North American International Auto Show Returns (Partially) to Its Place as the “Industry’s Show” in 2012 – Hard Show to Miss:  Since the “Carpocalypse” of 2009, the industry has been in a gradual state of recovery.  Partially due to the need (especially on the part of the U.S. Big Three) to exhibit modesty in tough times, the glitz and glamor associated with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been somewhat subdued, a little bit less so each successive year.

With recovery in swing, the 2012 show looks to be a return to the showmanship we have come to expect of North America’s most important auto show.  Numerous important models are being shown this year, and in contrast to the last few years, diminutive small cars are being de-emphasized in favor of bigger and more aspirational ones… the kinds of vehicles most Americans actually want to drive.

Though the economy remains stuck in first gear, auto sales are expected to continue improving – especially as the national fleet is well over 10 years old.  This means that many consumers, even if they are financially struggling, may be forced into buying a new vehicle.  That being the case, the automakers want to make convincing cases to these returning consumers – hence the showmanship at this year’s show.

No doubt, 2012 promises to be an exciting year – one that the 2012 NAIAS will set the tone for.

Dave Sullivan, Product Analysis Manager, AutoPacific

It might be cold in Detroit this year for NAIAS 2012, but automakers are hoping people warm up to more fuel efficient choices such as hybrids and smaller powertrains.  Every automaker with a press event is debuting some sort of downsized powertrain, hybrid, or variant to increase fuel efficiency…from the Bentley turbocharged V8 to the Volvo XC60 hybrid.  Coming off a fairly positive outcome in 2011 for light vehicle sales, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the mid-size sedan.  With 2012, the new Passat, Malibu, and Camry will each have a full year of sales, a new Altima and Accord will also debut later in the year but the big news will be at NAIAS where the Ford Fusion will make a global debut.  I expect the Ford booth to be well-trafficked with gawkers of the Fusion.  But no automaker will be holding a short straw this year in regards to a weak product line-up; making 2012 one of the most exciting years to look forward to in recent memory.

Ty Michael, Research Analyst, AutoPacific

NAIAS for me begins Sunday night, where I plan to attend Volkswagen’s pre-show media event in what could be a preview of what to expect from their next day’s unveiling of their 2013 Jetta hybrid.

On Monday, however, the real fun begins as I get to witness GM’s unveiling of its much-anticipated RWD 2013 Cadillac ATS. Chrysler will be showing off its Fiat-based 2013 Dodge Dart compact, bringing back a nameplate not seen since the mid-70s. A few concepts slated for unveiling has this auto enthusiast excited, however, starting with Honda’s vision for its upcoming high-performance Acura NSX. Toyota will be showing off its Scion FR-S coupe concept once again, hopefully a version closer to what will show up in dealers later this year. The automaker also plans to give show-goers a preview of another 2+2 concept, the Lexus LF-LC coupe, a vision of future styling cues from Lexus.

More hybrids are coming to the show, both concept and actual production, starting with North American International Auto Show Logothe 2013 Mercedes E-Class hybrid and 2012 Toyota Prius C hatchback production hybrids and the Toyota NS4 , Volvo XC60 and Smart For-Us pickup concept hybrids.

My first-time visit to the upcoming NAIAS show in Detroit this year will be filled with several awesome and interesting vehicle unveilings that are sure to definitely make this show a memorable one!

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