DETROIT — 815,575 people. That’s how many car enthusiasts checked out the 40 world and North American debuts at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). It’s an increase of 6,800 over last year’s public show. The auto show also saw visits from President Obama, top government officials and automotive CEOs.
In addition, the NAIAS welcomed 5,068 journalists from 60 countries. The AmericaJR.com Web Team is proud to be among the invited journalists. The auto show pumps $430 million of economic impact to the regional economy, according to economist David Sowerby, up $30 million from the previous year.
Some of this year’s big debuts include the return of the Lincoln Continental as a 2017 model. It looks very similar to the concept we saw in Los Angeles. The new Continental will be built in Michigan and will arrive in dealers this fall.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan will replace the outgoing Town & Country minivan. As an industry first, the Pacifica will offer a plug-in model achieving 80 miles per gallon.
“There are some great stories with luxury and design,” said Akshay Anand, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “A lot of the luxury we’ve seen at this show has been very elegant and very well styled. I think that’s going to attract consumers as luxury continues to be hot. A couple of examples…The Volvo S90 is a wonderful pivot off the Volvo XC90, which just won Truck of the Year.”
Lexus turned heads with its LC 500. It’s based off the LF-LC Concept that was shown here five years ago. The LC 500 won two EyesOn Design awards at the show. One for Design Excellence – Production Car and the second for Design Excellence – Interior Design.
Ford showed off its new 2017 Fusion sedan and an aluminum version of its F-150 Raptor truck. The American automaker brought in some star power from Hollywood with Ryan Seacrest speaking at its press conference.
“So far, so good. I’ve only been here about 10 minutes,” said attendee Michael Lewis from Dearborn, Mich. “I’ve seen a lot of nice cars. How about the new Corvette, the Z06.”
My favorite car was the Audi h-tron quattro. It offers a 372-mile range on a tank of hydrogen that can be refilled in just four minutes. Tiny cameras on the sides replace traditional mirrors with a display in the center console.
KIA took the wraps off its Telluride Concept. It’s a plug-in vehicle with futuristic technology designed to keep the driver awake and alert. The automaker stated that many of its concepts become full production vehicles. Let’s hope this is one of them!
“Diamond-cut openings in the seat back are embedded with smart sensors to capture vital health information which is then displayed on door-panel screens,” said KIA Chief Designer Tom Kearns, “The health information synchronizes with light emitting rejuvenation system. That emits a pattern therapeutic light to treat jet lag and improve energy levels.”
Meanwhile, Toyota announced a partnership with Kymeta. The two companies will product flat-panel satellite antennas starting with the Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle and later expanding across the line-up.
“I like the small cars like the MINIs, there are no MINIs here,” said Marc Pouliot, an attendee from Montreal, Quebec. “I like the microcars. We like the M2 from BMW.”
I caught up with Detroit businessman Roger Penske who I found walking around the show floor.
“Lots of great cars,” he explained. “I think the one I like the best is the Buick Avista.”
There were a lot of fun things to keep the kids occupied at the auto show like shooting hoops in the Ford display. Attendees also had the opportunity to make their own buttons and take them home as a souvenir.
Visitors could step in the driver’s seat and race at Mazda’s Laguna Seca race track. Scion brought its pinball game to the auto show. Finally, car enthusiasts were offered a chance to test drive the Hyundai N 2025 race car on Playstation’s Gran Turismo 6.
Get your engines ready for the 2017 North American International Auto Show. It’s never too early to start planning. The Press Preview will be held on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 9-10 with the Industry Preview on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 11-12. The annual Charity Preview is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13 and then the Public Show runs from Saturday, Jan. 14 – Sunday, Jan. 22. See you there!