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WRAP-UP: Over 700,000 people visited the 2010 North American International Auto Show

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The North American International Auto Show was packed with visitors on Jan. 22, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo

americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- The final attendance for the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was 715,000 people. That is up by 65,000 from last year's attendance of about 650,000 people in 2009. About 5,000 journalists attended the auto show from 61 countries. In 2009, there was 5,500 reporters from 48 countries. The 2010 show was significantly better than last year with bigger displays, more automakers and a brand-new electric avenue. Attendees could see that the auto industry was turning around by attending the show.

Forty new concept cars or production models were unveiled during the 2010 NAIAS. More than $2 million was raised during the annual black-tie charity preview. Detroit's own Romantics performed at the charity gala.

"There's a feeling of rejuvenation," said 2010 NAIAS Chairman Doug Fox. "Our hometown manufacturers are here with new product, new technology. A beautiful, new Chrysler display. There's a lot of excitement and buzz coming out of this year's show. We're hopeful that Porsche may consider coming back to our show next year. This year, it just wasn't possible. A lot of brands are in transition right now."

A long list of government officials visited the auto show this year. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Gary Peters, Rep. John Dingell, Rep. Dale Kildee, Michigan Gov. Granholm and many other officials attended the show this year. There was some early speculation that President Obama would appear at the auto show, but that never came to fruition.

"It's been incredibly positive for our show," Fox said. "The officials arrived here at seven o'clock in the morning and they didn't leave until five. I can tell you I had lunch with them. They were absolutely amazed at this show. They had no idea the show was this important and this elaborate in displays and product. They made the commitment to come back next year. It put our city and our show on the world map."

The Ford display was so huge that it was obvious that the Dearborn automaker was making money. The exhibit included lots of lightning and special activities for attendees to have some fun. Visitors were able to test the new Ford Active Park Assist feature, which allows vehicles to parallel park on their own without the driver having to use any hands at all. The Ford display also featured foosball, slot car racing, arcade racing and many other activities for everyone to enjoy.

"I've been here before, it's been a few years since I was here last," said Carol Schurig, an attendee from Westland, Mich. "We've seen the Ford display, the Chrysler/Dodge display and it's been very enjoyable. I think quite better than past years. It's very nice for the money you have to pay -- it's not that expensive."

The General Motors display was considerably smaller than last year. For one, it did not include Saab, Hummer or Pontiac. It appears that GM is finally giving its vehicles a unique sense of style. In past year, all GM vehicles appeared similar in style, regardless of their brand. For example, GM rolled out the GMC Granite concept and the hot-selling Buick LaCrosse. The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle is finally coming to showrooms in the fall.

"My uncle designed some of the parts so we came by to check out what he's done," said Haleigh Wojchiechowski, a first-time attendee from Sterling Heights, Mich. "My family, relatives work with it. The Chevy Volt -- I like it a lot, it's nice. It just looks smooth."

The Chrysler display was a little bit depressing. The automaker didn't show any new vehicles at all. Chrysler opted not to have a press conference during the first two days of media week. Since the automaker partnered with Fiat, two Fiat mini cars were on display -- the 500 and the Abarth. That was the only good thing about the Chrysler exhibit. All of the other vehicles were 2010 or 2011 models with virtually no changes from the past year.

"It's more of a sensible show this year," said David Champion, Senior Director of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. "In the past, it's been 'who's got the biggest horsepower, towing capacity, best-in-class, etc.?' This year, it's much more sensible. Cars that people would actually buy. There's a lot more focus on small cars, fuel-efficient cars. There's a big push toward electric cars, which are still a few more years off for the general public. Chrysler needs to be seen as a player. I think it's a mistake to not have a press conference to say 'this is what we've got, this is what's coming in the future, we do have a future in the U.S., in the global automotive world.' I would have said they should've had a press conference."

Toyota showed off its new hybrid vehicle, the FT-CH, which is supposed to be the sister to the hot-selling Prius hybrid. It also showed off a special Brooks & Dunn edition of the Tundra pickup truck. Toyota held a trivia game during the public show and asked questions to visitors about its automotive history. This all took place one week before the automaker voluntarily recalled millions of its vehicles.

"I've been coming every year since I was a little boy, maybe about 15 years," said Justin VanHooser of Waterford, Mich. "I like it, it's a little less than previous years. Obviously with the GM. A little bit less cars. It's awesome because cars get better every year."

There was a small fire at the Audi display on Thursday, Jan. 21. Everyone was evacuated from Cobo Center without injury. Attendees were given a voucher that allowed them to return to the auto show free of charge on one of the last three days. There was a problem with the light display, which caused the fire.

The Detroit Tigers caravan rolled into the auto show on Friday, Jan. 22. Attendees had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask the players, coaches and the manager a question. It all took place on a special stage behind the GM display. Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, Third Base Coach Gene Lamont, Pitcher Justin Verlander, Third Baseman Brandon Inge and many other players were on hand. The question-and-answer session lasted for about an hour.

"I've only been to about five auto shows," said Amanda Starick, an attendee from Waterford, Mich. "I like the less crowded, it's kind of easier to navigate, lots of open spaces. It's nice, very colorful this year, I like it. I'm excited just to look at all the new cars, it's fun."

Dates for the 2011 North American International Auto Show have been announced. Press days will be Jan. 10 and 11 with industry preview days on Jan. 12 and 13. The Charity Preview will take place on Jan. 14. The auto show opens to the public from Jan. 15 to 23.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Ford Fusion Challenge offered attendees the chance to win a prize.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Ford display generated a lot of interest since the Dearborn automaker did not request any government support for its turnaround plan.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

More than 700,000 people attended the auto show during public days.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A look at the Volkswagen and Chrysler displays

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A look at the Dodge and Hyundai displays

 

This page was last updated on Tue, February 9, 2010 1:28 AM

 

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