NAIAS

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicks off on Monday with preview days for the international press.

The show opens to the public next Saturday.   One of the highlights this year may not even be a car.

Auto show vice chairman Bob Schuman is pretty confident that everyone who goes to the show will be talking about the new Corvette, Chevy's top of the line sports car.   But they may also be talking about the ongoing Cobo renovation. Cobo has a new atrium that opens up the convention center to a view of the river and the Windsor skyline.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show is less than a month away.  But part of Detroit’s Cobo Center is still a very active construction site.

Rain is pouring through gaps in the roof.  Construction crews are using heavy equipment.  The space hardly looks like a scenic atrium.

But officials say wait three weeks.

The final phase of a $279 million renovation of Cobo Center is close to completion.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Attendance is up about ten percent at the North American International Auto Show.   

195,000 people attended the show on Saturday and Sunday, the first two days the show was open to the public. That compares to about 180,000 people the first two days of the show last year.

Of course, the weather has been quite good for Michigan this time of year. But organizers think there's more than that to account for the increase.

Detroit Auto Show Chairman Bill Perkins says there’s a feeling of “euphoria."

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Media preview days have begun at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in Detroit. Michigan Radio's auto-beat reporter Tracy Samilton is at the show and spoke with us this morning about what we should look for over the next week.

The North American International Auto Show gets underway in just a couple of weeks in Detroit.  While the show is still really big, it’s facing new competitors. 

India-based Jaguar and Land Rover are skipping the Detroit auto show this year to focus on a show in New Delhi.  In recent years, some big launches happened at China auto shows instead of Detroit.    

Michelle Krebs is with Edmunds.com.   She says Detroit’s auto show also has domestic competitors.

"New York, Chicago and L.A. all want to take a big piece of Detroit’s premier status," she notes.

Chicago Auto Show organizers like Detroit's trend

Jan 25, 2011
Chicago Auto Show

For the second year in a row, attendance at the North American International Auto Show increased.

It's not just good news for Detroit. It could also be good news for Chicago.

The 2011 Chicago Auto Show kicks off in two weeks.

Its organizers say they’re encouraged by the figures out of Detroit where 735,000 people attended this year’s show.

That’s about 20,000 more than last year.

It's not a huge increase, but it is a change from years of steady decline.
Paul Brian works with the Chicago Auto Show, which attracts a lot more people than the Detroit Auto Show. Brian says regional rivalries aside

"It's kind of like whether you’re Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines - everybody’s playing on the same team. If it’s good for the Detroit show, it’s good for Chicago, and New York, and LA, and it’s good for the industry."

After all, buzz is buzz.

Jdpowers65 / Flickr

Attendance is up at the North American International Auto Show so far this year, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Freep says:

Attendance Monday was 64,520, up from 61,112 from the same day last year, said NAIAS spokesman Sam Locricchio. On opening day Saturday, 86,622 attended the show, compared with 83,715 on the opening Saturday last year, he said. Sunday's attendance was 99,111 -- up from 96,623 for the opening Sunday in 2010, he said.

The show, at Detroit's Cobo Center, is open until Sunday.

Roger Hart / Auto Week

Editors at Auto Week perused the offerings at the 2011 North American International Auto Show and named their top picks.

Executive Editor of Auto Week, Roger Hart, said the show had more than two dozen new models on display, and most had one thing in common:

 "There were no fancy, pie-in-the-sky, dreamlike concept cars. Nearly everything billed as a concept looked as if you could buy one tomorrow at your local dealership and drive it home."

Here are their picks:

BEST IN SHOW: Porsche 918 RSR Concept

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At the Detroit International Auto Show, domestic automakers are celebrating a comeback of their industry. GM and Ford both saw profits last year, and the car makers are expecting a good year this year.

As more proof of the comeback, Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley report in the New York Times about profit-sharing checks that are expected to go to GM and Ford workers:

The two big Detroit carmakers will announce profit-sharing checks this month for their hourly workers, perhaps the largest in a decade, company officials and industry analysts say.

The checks are expected to top out at $5,000 at Ford, less at GM.

They report these checks "would be the biggest payout since the $8,000 checks that Ford handed out in 2000." Chrysler, the report says, is not expected to issue bonus checks this year.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing visited the North American International Auto Show today in Detroit. As the Associated Press reports:

The former NBA great toured Cobo Center... checking out the latest offerings from companies including General Motors and Ford. He says a comeback for automakers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler is positive for the city and the state.

Bing is just one of many politicians who have visited the show over the past few days.  Governor Rick Snyder visited the show yesterday and members of Michigan's Congressional delegation, including Democratic Representatives John Dingell, Sander Levin and Gary Peters, have also visited Cobo Center this week.

Governor Rick Snyder visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, something governors traditionally do. They greet the CEOs, make nice comments about the new models, and disappear.

I can’t recall a single thing any politician has said at the auto show that was worth remembering.  But this year is a little different. Two years ago, it was highly uncertain whether there would be either an domestic auto industry or an auto show in 2011.

What’s more, almost nobody in the industry or the state had ever heard of Rick Snyder, and nobody imagined he’d be governor.

Well, the auto industry is a good bit healthier today, and the state is getting used to a governor who doesn’t like to wear a tie, and doesn’t mind being called a nerd. Like other governors before him, Snyder didn’t say anything especially stirring at the auto show. But he did a few things worth noting. He didn’t just visit what we might now call the not-so-big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. He stopped by Kia and Hyundai and Toyota too.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday.  He sat in a Chevy Volt, stopped by the Ford and Prius pavilions, and visited with Fiat-Chryser CEO Sergio Marccione. Rick Pluta was at the show and filed this report:

Governor Snyder cheered the rebound in the auto industry from where it was at this time last year. Snyder says he does not want to play favorites when it comes to economic development -- that Michigan should make all entrepreneurs feel equally welcome. But the governor also says he recognizes how big the car business still looms in the state’s economy. Snyder said:

The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.

The governor says he will call for lower taxes and less regulation and will reveal more details of his economic plan next week when he delivers his first State of the State address

The show opened for media previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The head of President Obama’s Auto Task Force paid a visit to the North American International Auto show.
 
Ron Bloom is also the President’s top advisor on manufacturing policy. Bloom and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow toured Detroit automakers’ exhibits at the auto show.
 
Bloom says the Obama administration is “cautiously optimistic” about the U.S. auto industry’s recovery.
 
He says automakers’ profits are “better than expected," but admits that job growth is slower than he’d like. Still, he’s optimistic.
 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The 2011 North American International Auto Show is in a decidedly upbeat mood.

After two years of somber shows, automakers are rolling out new products and showcasing an unusual level of variety and innovation. And they're bullish about how consumers will respond to all those new choices.

Chrysler might be the poster child for the resurgent feeling at this year’s show.

Last year, the automaker barely had a presence, and Chrysler Brand President Olivier Francois remembered how that felt.

Flickr user: citizen of the deep

In past years, most of the so-called “green cars” at the North American International Auto Show were concept cars – not ready for prime time. This year is different.

The Toyota Prius has been America’s premier environmentally friendly car for ten years. Now, the car has some serious competition. Both the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf have an EPA fuel economy rating the equivalent of more than 90 miles to the gallon.

Tracy Samilton talked with Brad Berman, founder of plugincars.com

“Suddenly it makes the Prius' 50 mpg seem mild. Now it’s Toyota’s turn to say, hey, we’re still relevant.”

Toyota is turning the Prius into an entire brand. People going to the show will be able to see three new Prius vehicles, including a plug-in being unveiled in Detroit.

Photo courtesy of www.stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow visited the North American International Auto Show yesterday in Detroit. The Associated Press reports the Democrat said, "she's excited that the Chevrolet Volt was named Car of the Year," at the show.  The Car of the Year award was announced yesterday morning.  The Ford Explorer won the Truck of the Year award.

Former House Speaker and California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to attend the show yesterday but canceled the trip after Saturday's shooting in Arizona.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to visit the show with his Lt. Gov., Brian Calley, later today.

Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will visit the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will also attend.

The two will tour the auto show and meet with President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Authority Michael Finney.

Media previews of the show began yesterday.  The show opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today president of GM North America, Mark Reuss spoke with Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.

The Chevy Volt won the "Car of the Year Award" at the Detroit Auto Show. White asked Reuss why the auto company has put so much into the development of the Volt.

"If you look at the electric and hybrid car piece of the industry, it's been steadily gaining in popularity as time goes on. But what does it take to go beyond hybrid? To go beyond the traditional electric car and produce something that really has an exteded range with the gasoline and the battery on board, so you don't have to worry about an electric engine on board?"

Reuss said they accomplished that with the development of the Volt, and that GM remained focused on the Volt through some rough times.

When asked about the prospects for the new car market, Reuss was upbeat because he says there are a lot of people driving older cars, so there's "pent up demand" for new cars:

"And the reason why I say this is because if you look at the cost to operate some of the newer vehicles from a fuel efficiency standpoint, they're much, much lower than some of the vehicles these people are forced to hang onto."

Reuss said, in the past, the company has been good at engineering and building trucks and some of the "truck variants," but today they're re-focusing their efforts on smaller cars: 

"We have refocused with the launch of things like the Volt, and the Sonic for Chevrolet, and then the  Verano for Buick. We've really refocused our efforts into excellence in the small and compact car markets. And you're going to see those as really good alternatives in the market as we go forward."

Reuss was asked how he views the automotive industry today. Here's his response:

General Motors

For people who follow the car business, the big news coming from the North American International Auto Show on Monday was no surprise.    

Still, GM employees enthusiastically cheered and applauded the announcement.

The Volt is GM’s extended range electric car.  GM has big plans riding on the electric car’s small frame.  In fact, the Volt is more than a car for GM. It’s an entire strategy.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody caught up with Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke. Carmody asked Clarke about his reaction to the Giffords tragedy:

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit has often been a place for local members of Congress to meet and greet constituents.

But this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman is raising questions about security.

Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman has affected his security plans:

"We are implementing some of the procedures recommended by the U. S. Capitol Police, but I feel confident that those will be adequate."

Clarke was sworn in for his first turn in Congress just days ago.

One of the first people he met was Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Clarke says the two talked about both being graduates of Cornell University.

He expressed sadness on the attempt on Giffords' life, but he says that danger is just a fact of life that all elected officials must face:

"I'm not going to change how I work.   I'm going to be as open and available to the public.  I think that's very important.  I represent the taxpayers. I'm paid by the taxpayers.  I'm hired by them to work for them.  They need to know that their government is open and available to them."

Ford Motor Company

Not to be outdone by GM and Nissan, Ford Motor Company says it is delivering on a promise to make more small, fuel-efficient cars for consumers.

At the North American International Auto Show today, the company is showcasing 10 new "C-segment" cars. The company says the vehicles are "fuel efficient smaller cars that people really want."

Charles Manley / Michigan Radio

Update 11:33 a.m.:

Here's a video of Carl Brower, editor-at-large of Edmunds.com talking about the Chevy Volt winning the "Car of the Year Award."

Update: 10:11 a.m.:

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with Edmunds.com editor-at-large, Carl Brower. Brower headed the jury of auto industry journalists who picked the Volt. Brower said:

"I think the Volt represents not only a break from traditional drive train technology, but a break from the manufacturing image. It's a hybrid plus. It's beyond a hybrid. And I don't know how many people would have believed that a big domestic auto maker like GM could pull this off a few years ago."

8:23 a.m.:

It's just been announced that the Chevrolet Volt has won the 2011 North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show.  The Ford Explorer won truck of the year. The awards were announced this morning.

The Associated Press reports:

Finalists for the car award were the Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf. Truck finalists were the Dodge Durango, the Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Forty-nine auto journalists from the U.S. and Canada made the picks. The vehicles are judged on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value.

The NAIAS opened this morning for media previews.  The show is open to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody just attended a press conference with Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne told reporters that his goal is to pay back the government loans by the end of this year.

Chrysler owes around $7.5 billion to the U.S. government.

He said he was heartened by the response to GM's IPO last year and the investor interest in the auto industry makes a Chrysler IPO more likely.

user dgtmedia-simone / wikimedia commons

Chrysler made the case for its self-proclaimed "resurrection" at the North American International Auto Show.

The company put on an optimistic show as it debuted 16 new Chrysler products. The automaker had only a bare-bones presence at the auto-show last year.

Sergio Marchionne is Chrysler's CEO. He said the display shows the company is once again a viable competitor in the North American car market:

The Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press are reporting that Ford plans to announce the creation of 7,000 more jobs at today's auto show. From the Wall Street Journal:

Ford Motor Co. on Monday is expected to announce it will hire 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields is expected to confirm the news at the auto maker's presentation before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, this person said.

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