Jan 2014

DETROIT OVERVIEW: Despite the city’s problems, the show must go on

The city might be bankrupt and having to sell the family jewels but Detroit can still put on a show.

It maybe somewhat more muted than a few years ago in terms of hollywood style unveils but there is no shortage of new models on show in motor city and the auto show still pulls in the crowds – some 800,000 visitors are expected when the show opens to the public.

That’s almost the same number as bought Ford’s giant F-150 pick-up last year and the visitors will surely be interested in the all new model which had the wraps taken off at this year’s show.

With the city in financial trouble, the auto show is an especially big deal this year, injecting some $350m into the local economy. The Cobo Exhibition Centre has had something of a makeover as well with a new four-storey glass atrium overlooking the Detroit River. The huge revamped riverside ballroom was taken over by Ford as a technology showcase where journalists could eat, drink and interview.

Over at General Motors, incoming boss Mary Barra made her first public appearance unveiling the GMC Canyon, a midsize pickup. The main event from Chrysler was the launch of new versions of its 200 saloon and the Dart.

Away from the Big Three there was a lot of interest in Toyota’s FT-1 sports concept, a pointer perhaps to a new Supra, while Kia’s GT4 Stinger was a surprise show star.

Of the important models coming soon to the UK, Mercedes-Benz launched the all-new C-Class while we also saw the BMW M3 and M4.

Analysts attending the show reported an upbeat mood which bodes well for the year ahead in the North American market following on from sales of 15.5m last year, the best total in six years.