By Chris Haak
There are always plenty of photo-taking opportunities at the Detroit Auto Show: not just beautiful and interesting cars, but sometimes even beautiful and interesting spokesmodels. Below the jump, you’ll find a full gallery of hundreds of images that we captured while at the show. If any significant vehicle is missing, that likely just means that it didn’t interest the photographer sufficiently to warrant a shot.
We hope you enjoy the gallery. By the way, the photo on the right is all six-foot-four of yours truly, crammed into the back seat of a Scion iQ. Yes, I did fit, and no, I wouldn’t want to spend more than 15 minutes back there unless I was riding behind a dwarf.
By Chris Haak
Press days are long since over, the stories have been filed, and members of the public have seen the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. So just what did we see at this year’s show? With the benefit of a week since press days ended to ponder the best concept vehicles and production-car reveals, I decided to give my opinion of what we saw at the show and what the impact of those vehicles will be going forward. Some were good, some were not so good.
Generally, the mood at the Detroit show was more optimistic than it’s been in years. There was far less gloom-and-doom pervading the atmosphere, and the show’s organizers were taken by surprise with the number of press conferences requested for the show’s first day. The result was a schedule that was booked solid for about 12 hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., without even a meal break scheduled for a chance for journalists to catch their collective breaths. Though I don’t have official attendance figures, there seemed to be far more people in attendance – both from the manufacturers and from the media – during this year’s show than there had been during 2009 and 2010. Altogether, good problems for the industry to have, but the packed schedule and extra crowds made it challenging to navigate the show. With that being said, I don’t think I’d trade attendance at the Detroit show for any other auto show in the US.
By Charles Krome
Well, the new Ford Escape is off to a hot start: The Blue Oval’s Vertrek concept, generally accepted as providing more than a few clues to the look of the next-gen Escape (and Kuga), was recently named “Best Concept” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit by the editors of AutoWeek. And while I recognize the award comes with all the usual caveats one expects with third-party industry honors, winning certainly beats the alternative, especially when you consider how important the new Escape will be for Ford.
For one thing, the current Escape, despite being one of the older vehicles on the market today, is still ringing up high sales volumes. It finished 2010 by finding 191,026 new customers, making the Ford the 12th-best-selling vehicle in the entire industry. Looking just at smallish crossovers, the only entry to best the Escape was the Honda CR-V, with the Toyota RAV4 some 20,000 units behind of the Ford, and the Chevrolet Equinox trailing by more than 40,000 sales. But maintaining this kind of sales pace, even in a growing segment, won’t be simple with the also-growing level of competition. Beyond the three Ford rivals I just mentioned, the Nissan Rogue and Nissan Juke are each gaining traction with customers, and it’s likely just a matter of time before the South Koreans begin eating up share here as well. That means the new Ford is going to have to be a home run for the Escape to even maintain its ranking in the segment, something that’s vital for the automaker’s future.
By Charles Krome
For most of the industry, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit already is essentially over. The press conferences are finished, the execs are back in their offices and the auto media is turning its focus to Chicago and Geneva. But for the public, things were just getting started this past weekend, so I made the trip to Cobo Hall one more time, most of the family in tow, to get the real-world Detroit auto show experience. Here are the highlights:
We arrived to little traffic on Sunday, the second public day of the show, about 45 minutes after the doors opened at 9:00. While mom steeled herself for the ordeal with a cup of coffee, I took our two youngest girls—aged 11 and 8—to the Ford exhibit. They had seen a photo of the new Ford C-MAX mounted vertically on a column to show off its interior, and that was the first thing they wanted to see.
By Charles Krome
Ah, the cold, hard slap of reality. After spending most of the day wandering the vastness of the Detroit auto show and eyeing the latest sheet metal, I had left Cobo Hall and was immediately reminded of what can happen between a vehicle’s promising NAIAS debut as a show vehicle and its production launch some time later: There in front of me was a Pontiac Aztek.
The Aztek concept (see accompanying media photos) had premiered at the Detroit show in 1999 with a fair amount of buzz. With automakers suddenly worried about rising gas prices, some were beginning to explore the idea of creating a new kind of vehicle that would mix a certain amount of SUV ruggedness and capability with the more fuel-efficient and less taxing road manners of a car. The Aztek concept was one of the first results.