This change allowed me to do something I haven't done in past years-- attend the auto show on a weekday instead of a weekend day. Boy, what a difference! No huge crowds and very few small children running around made my nearly six hours on the show floor a much more enjoyable experience than past visits.
This year's show was noticably scaled back in terms of elaborate displays and giveaways. Not surprising considering the stuggles most auto companies are going through. But don't get me wrong, the Cobo Convention Center halls were filled with beautiful displays showcasing the best in interanational automotive technology.
I love cars in general, so I go to see just about everything. But, the big draw for many are the various concept vehicles, unveiled to give everyone a glimpse of what we might drive in the future. Most of the vehicles don't make it to production in their concept form, but you often find many production cars and trucks incorporating aspects of concepts. For instance, many of the design cues on Cadillacs come from previous concepts like the Evoq and Sixteen. There are some concepts that do make it to production pretty much intact. The HUMMER H2 and upcoming Chevy Camaro come to mind.
Because of my longtime connection to General Motors-- my mother is a GM retiree, having worked for the corporation for decades-- I write about GM vehicles more often than others and spent more time in what I like to call "GM World" than any other section at the auto show. Here are the vehicles that got my blood pumping:
Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon/Cadillac Escalade Hybrids: GM is aggressively marketing its efforts to go "from gas friendly to gas free" as it puts more alternative fuel vehicles in dealer showrooms. The 2008 Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon two-mode hybrid models, now on sale, are the first full-sized hybrid SUVs in the world. The Cadillac Escalade hybrid goes on sale later this year as a 2009 model. The hybrid system, developed jointly with BMW and then-DaimlerChyrsler, is mated with a 6.0 liter V8 engine to provide the same power for hauling SUV owners want with 25%* better fuel efficiency. The only problem is you pay a roughly 12% premium, up front, for the technology so the actual savings to your wallet are delayed by about 10-to-15 years. But, you'll be helping the planet. The Tahoe and Yukon hybrids start around $50,000. I would expect the Escalade hybrid to start around $70,000. OUCH!Chevy Volt: As we all grow more fuel concious with each passing day, I love the idea of a road practicle alternative fuel vehicle that also looks good. The Chevy Volt fits that bill. GM must really be working to make this a reality. This concept was originally unveiled at the 2007 NAIAS and it's back in 2008. I must admit, the notion of an electric car that could get me to and from work without using a drop of gasoline and recharges when you simply plug it in to a regular electric power outlet is exciting. Now, if they can only make it affordable.