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Detroit Auto Show

Mark Brush

Every year, my neighbor knows spring is almost here because he sees me lying under my 24-year-old VW Vanagon looking for the latest leak from my “wasserboxer” engine.

It’s like Groundhog Day. If the thing starts, spring comes early. If not, we’re all one mail-order part away from warmer weather. So when that VW parts place in California sends me the new hose/temp sensor/gasket/fratastat, I fire up the van and summer starts.  

I’ve been lucky. I’ve kept the thing going. The van still has Fahrvergnügen. And we get to park it in places like this:

 

user dgtmedia-simone / wikimedia commons

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne rarely holds a press conference without offering at least one memorable quote.

Actually, let's make that never. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has never given a press conference without making at least one statement that is memorable, or colorful, or shocking, or funny, or all four combined.

Reporters getting a closer look at the Chevy Bolt concept.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, Jack and Emily discuss Detroit schools’ new emergency manager, Dave Agema’s latest controversy and the North American International Auto Show.


Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

Click on the image above to see some of the concept cars on display at this year's auto show.

- Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Automakers are showing off everything from supercars to trucks to electrics at the North American International Auto Show this week. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is covering the show in Detroit.

She says there are quite a few hybrids and electrics on display including the highly anticipated debut of a hybrid supercar — the Acura NSX - a "three motor sport hybrid."

Today marks the first day of media preview action at the North American International Auto Show. Already, some big winners have been named. Ford won Truck of the Year award for its F-150, while the Volkswagen Golf was crowned the North American Car of the Year.

The Mercedes F 015 "Luxury in Motion" concept car.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It's the vision behind the Mercedes F 015 concept car. The car was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. 

This week, the car is in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show and there are plenty of reporters/writers/bloggers curious about what the car is all about.

When you look at it, you can see that the car is a concept. I half expected RoboCop to step out of it.

Instead of a traditional car with good visibility for its passengers, the designers of the F 015 seem to be shielding its passengers from the outside world.

General Motors' Chevy Bolt is expected to be in showrooms by the end of the year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

General Motors officials introduced a concept car, the Chevy Bolt, today at the North American International Auto Show. The car company claims the all-electric car has a range of up to 200 miles on one charge and will be affordable to the typical consumer. The company puts the price of the Bolt at $30,000 including a federal tax credit.

If it’s released, the Bolt would compete with the electric car-maker Tesla. Tesla’s Model S has a range of 265 miles on one charge, but the car’s price tag is out of reach for many consumers with a base price of nearly $70,000.

The 2015 VW Golf (left), and the 2015 Ford F-150 (right) at the North American International Auto Show.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Volkwagen Golf was named the North American Car of the Year, beating out the other two competitors nominated for the award – the Ford Mustang, and the Hyundai Genesis.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The North American International Auto Show in Detroit has opened its doors to the public.

The annual event began Saturday at Cobo Center following a week of previews for journalists and others in the industry. A race-worthy Corvette, a sumptuous Mercedes C-Class and other glitzy models catch the eye at the show, which runs through Jan. 26.

Sonari Glinton / NPR

Vice President Joe Biden says the US government bet on American automakers—and won.

Biden touted the auto industry’s comeback during a stop at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show Thursday.

Biden said Detroit’s automakers have come a long way since GM and Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009.

And he said that resurgence proves the government-backed restructuring worked—and saved the country from a much deeper recession.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, the focus is naturally on the cars.

But behind the scenes, more than 2,000 people labor to make sure visitors are impressed by what they see.

Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century now. And in a place known as the Motor City, it’s always been a pretty big deal.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Media preview days are in full swing at the North American International Auto Show.

Over 5,000 reporters from around the world have converged on Cobo Center, including Daniel Howes, a business columnist with The Detroit News.

Howes talks with us about the big car news to come out of the auto show.

Listen to full interview above.

Chrysler introduced the car it’s promising will “redefine the brand” at Detroit’s auto show Monday.

The “flagship” 2015 Chrysler 200 is the Auburn Hills-based automaker’s first venture into the highly competitive mid-size sedan market in more than a decade.

Chrysler officials say the model will go “head-to-head” with its competitors in terms of quality, design and – at just under $22,000 – price.

David Mindell

Ford Motor Company revealed a groundbreaking change for its top-selling F-150 truck at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. The new truck will have a body made mostly of aluminum instead of steel.

Ford is taking the calculated risk to retain its crown as the number one seller of pickups in the world.

Ford is banking on the loyalty of F-150 owners like David Mindell, CEO of Plantwise, a company that specializes in native plant landscaping and wetlands restoration.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

This week's opening of the auto show at Cobo Center in Detroit marks 25 years since the show took its jump into the big time. 

What used to be the "Detroit Auto Show" became the North American International Auto Show, putting Detroit square in the center of the auto show universe. 

Detroit Free Press Business columnist Tom Walsh explores the show's history.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Call it a 21st century paradox.

The city of Detroit is in bankruptcy, mired in debt of at least $18 billion. But the industry it's synonymous with has left its own financial problems in the rearview mirror.

This month, the industry comes to the Detroit area's aid, with an economic boost estimated near $400 million from its annual North American International Auto Show.

The impact isn't solely financial. A successful show can help give local residents and businesses confidence that the city can get back on its feet again.

Last month, Governor Rick Snyder called for less coal power and more renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities are in a good position, but questions remain over whether lawmakers will be able to act before the state's current energy standards expire. We found out more on today's show.

Then, of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14% are women. Why do some female scientists give up? And what can be done to help female students and minorities succeed?

And, we heard from the BBC on how China had become the world leader for wind power.

Also, a group of “free skiers” have found a new ski location in the abandon buildings of Detroit.

First on the show, it's Thursday, time for the first check-in of this New Year with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Understandably, he has the auto industry on his mind as we prepare for next week's opening of the North American International Auto Show. He got an early look at the show, and he joined us today to discuss it.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Good crowds at this years' Detroit auto show

Another North American International Auto Show has wrapped up, and ticket sales were up yet again. The show drew more than 795,000 people, the best crowd since 2004 according to Chevy dealer and NAIAS committee member Scott LaRiche.

"We have seen an actual spring board over the last few years, and we're slowly climbing up there towards that 800,000 mark, and realistically,if you look at it from the standpoint of the media that attended, over 5,500 media, we did break the 800,000 mark," said LaRiche.

Now the car companies are on to the Chicago for that cities auto show.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's trial continues after weekend jail stay

The Kilpatrick corruption trial continues after the former Detroit mayor had to spend the weekend in jail on a separate matter. From the Associated Press:

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released after spending the weekend in prison for violating parole in a 2008 conviction that booted him from office.

The Michigan Corrections Department says Kilpatrick violated parole by not disclosing all financial transactions last fall. He still owes Detroit $855,000 in restitution and must report details about his income and expenses.

Kilpatrick will go from jail to federal court where the corruption case against him and several of his associates has been going on since September.
  Toyota is King again
  The Detroit News says so:
  Now it's official: Toyota is once again the world's top automaker. 

Toyota Motor Corp. released its tally for global vehicle sales for last year Monday at a record 9.748 million vehicles — a bigger number than the estimate it gave last month of about 9.7 million vehicles.It was already clear Toyota had dethroned General Motors Co. as the Detroit-based automaker fell short, selling 9.29 million vehicles.

 GM first lost their top-selling title to Toyota in 2008, then GM regained the title in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. 2012 showed that Toyota is up and running again.
  Since we're talking about this horse race, we should note that Volkswagen is close behind as the world's third largest automaker.

Jeff Kowalsky


For the average person, there's a lot of "wow" at the North American International Auto Show.

But for reporters and auto company executives, that "wow" can sometimes be more like "ow."

Especially during the impromptu, free-for-all press conferences that are known as "scrums."

Problem is, nobody tells you what a scrum is before you attend your first Detroit auto show.

They all wait until it's too late to back out. It's almost a kind of hazing.

Commentary: Why Detroit failed

Jan 18, 2013

This week, people in the Detroit area have been giddy with excitement over what seems to be even a better North American International Auto Show than usual. But in a week the auto show will be over, and sooner or later, we’ll be painfully reminded that Detroit is still teetering on the edge of insolvency.

Lately, the city council has been making some rational or semi-rational moves aimed at staving off the loss of political control. And indeed, the Governor seems to have slowed what once looked like a quick march to the appointment of an emergency manager.

Still, it is hard to see how a state takeover of the city can eventually be avoided, given what my students would call Detroit’s “ginormous” problems balancing its budget and the ticking time bomb of 12 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The press conferences are over. The automakers have released their new models to the media.

Starting next week, the public will have a chance to see the cars for themselves.

Here are a few images from our time at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors says it expects only a modest increase in pretax profits this year, as it rolls out many new cars and trucks worldwide.

The company also expects global auto sales to grow modestly this year, driven by the U.S. and China.

The company told investors at a Deutsche Bank industry conference in Detroit that its pretax profit margin in North America should rise from 8 to 10 percent in the next three or four years. Profit margin is a measure of how much the company earned after costs of doing business.

GM posted nearly $4 billion in net income during the first nine months of last year, including almost $1.5 billion in the third quarter. The company will announce fourth-quarter and full-year earnings in a few weeks.

Green confidence at the North American International Auto Show

Jan 15, 2013
Cars.com

With the Detroit International Auto Show only just beginning, GM and Chrysler are already receiving good news.

This year's North American Car of the Year award went to the Cadillac ATS, while Truck of the Year was awarded to the Dodge Ram 1500.

According to Bernard Swiecki with the Center for Automotive Research, these awards are more significant in their effects on confidence, rather than their impact on sales.

"Interestingly, both of these vehicles are built in Michigan, so there's a very real local connection there as well. This is kind of an endorsement that both of these critical vehicles were done right by the engineering teams. "

Swiecki mentions that confidence is shown not only in the vehicles, but in the atmosphere of this year's Detroit Auto Show, and is a clear departure from the austerity of the post-bailout shows of the past.

"In the 2009 and 2010 shows, there was almost an atmosphere of allaying the fears that 'We're not going to be here next year', and that's really not the case anymore, and it hasn't been for the last two or three years. Now it's more about a confident approach, showing future products with every certainty that 1) the companies are viable and 2) the products themselves are world-class," he said.

These American vehicles are world-class, and green, according to Swiecki, who claims that green-technology continues to be a pronounced trend in new American vehicles, such as Cadillac's luxurious take on the Chevy Volt. Green technology is even moving across vehicle platforms this year to trucks with Ford's Atlas Pickup concept, which will eventually become the next generation Ford F-150.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When you walk onto the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show, the bright lights and polished shine of the cars surround you.

You'd think a wash, wax, and polish for the cars would be good enough.

I mean, these things are indoors. What can muck them up?

Dust. That's what.

And not just dust... fingerprints too! (for heaven's sake)

So at the North American International Auto Show, you see a small army of people hovering over the cars with feather dusters, a little towel, and a spray bottle.

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys looking sharp at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

At the North American International Auto Show today, the Chinese-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group, or GAC Motors, announced plans to build Jeeps to sell in the Chinese market.

GAC Motors is a state-owned automobile business located in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.

More on the announcement from Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press:

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It used to be that fuel-efficient cars were not taken all that seriously. But that has changed.

Jim Motavalli is the author of High Voltage and a blogger for the New York Times and Car Talk. He spoke with me for today's Environment Report from the North American International Auto Show. 

Motavalli points out that there's no special section for "green cars" at the auto show.

"I think what we’re seeing is green technology has been incorporated into pretty much all of the cars on display here, so the green cars aren’t in a little special penned-in area. That’s inherently a good thing. And maybe at this auto show 2013, we’re not seeing a lot of electric car introductions or plug-in hybrid introductions; what we’re seeing is 'eco' incorporated into every model that’s introduced here, including the Corvette Stingray and the Grand Cherokee Jeep SRT, both of which have eco modes or eco buttons, because every automaker is being driven towards the 2025 goal of 54.5 mpg fleet average, which the federal government is demanding."

Ford

Ford is known for putting on a glitzy press conference at the Detroit Auto Show.

The media and auto industry officials filed into Joe Louis Arena to see what the company would unveil.

Company officials spent a good portion of the 25 minute press conference showing off their new line of Transit vans.

But the sparks flew when they lowered their concept truck, the "Atlas," from the ceiling of the arena.

Take a look:

Why trucks? Well, a good portion of the company's profits come from their truck line, with the Ford F-150 leading the way.

Nissan

Nissan found itself in the spotlight at the North American International Auto Show today.  But not entirely for reasons that would please company executives.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

At the unveiling of the all-electric VIA Motors truck, former auto exec Bob Lutz held a conversation with a holographic presentation of Thomas Edison.

VIA Motors is a privately held electric vehicle development and manufacturing company. The company is working to develop a purely electric truck under the VTRUX brand name.

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