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AUTO SHOW PREVIEW: 30-40 new vehicles expected to debut at the 2011 North American International Auto Show

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Porsche is returning to the North American International Auto Show for the first time since 2007.
by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

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DETROIT -- There are just a few days left until the 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opens to the media on Jan. 11. Workers are putting the final touches on the displays inside Cobo Center. They are working around the clock to meet the deadline. The glitz and glamour is coming and AmericaJR.com will be in the middle of it bringing it home to you.

Some of the hot, new concept cars that will be revealed at the NAIAS include the Toyota Vitz, Mazda Ryuga, Hyundai Veloster, Ford Escape, GMC Sierra All Terrain HD, Honda Civic, Kia KV7 and the MINI Paceman. Click here for a complete listing of concept cars.

The Volkswagen NMS, 2012 Hyundai Veloster Tiberion, 2012 Ford Focus, 2011 Acura TSX hybrid, 2012 Volkswagen Passatt CC, 2012 Audi A6, 2012 BMW 6 Series Convertible and the 2012 Ford C-Max compact minivan are among the production models that will be on display at the NAIAS. Click here for our complete list of production models.

Sam Locricchio is a spokesman for the 2011 NAIAS. He leads the Automotive Business Practice division at the Troy, Mich. office of the public relations firm Lambert, Edwards & Associates.

"It's certainly a big difference from where we were in '09," he said. "Last year, promised a lot of optimism. I think this year with 2011, a lot of delivering on the promises of what we're going to see here in the next couple of weeks. Here we are in the midst of a lot of the set up right now, even in subtle changes that you see with a lot of the booths that are being set up. There's a lot more steel, showing the change in materials that people are using in their booths."

Locricchio added: "I also see that we've got 30 to 40 worldwide debuts, those are vehicles that have not been seen anywhere before. The product pipeline is certainly filling up for the manufacturers, which always makes for an exciting show. That's what draws in the journalists from around the world. We usually get about 5,000. That builds buzz for the public, which come in the next week."

Many improvement have been made to Cobo Center since the last auto show. By the time of the 2012 NAIAS, the facility will receive even more renovations.

"We're very excited about what's going on with Cobo," the spokesman said. "There's a brand new caterer that we have here. They are redoing some of the eateries that we have out front. They are taking the theme of what is our heritage of Detroit, which is Motown music, the sports element. They've got what's called 'Eatsville U.S.A.' they're setting up out front. Those will be done for the show. Some structural things that they've started to work on. Cobo has always said that they've got a three-phased plan. This is phase two. In phase three, we look to even more improvements and potentially that expansion that we've been needing for quite some time."

Porsche is making its return to the Detroit auto show, for the first time in four years. The automaker skipped the NAIAS in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"We've got Porsche back, which is great for us," Locricchio explained. "It's great for them as well. They had been out last few years, but they decided to come back and I think that's indicative of what they see happening in the marketplace, what's happening in this local marketplace and what they see happening as a resurgence of the industry. We welcome them back, obviously, with open arms. Certainly, our show floor is full. It's been full since June, which is great. Who knows who may come back in subsequent years, but I think that's a good bellwether in the future of others possibly coming back."

This year's auto show is nearing completion a lot faster than in previous years. How did that happen?

"I think what you've got now the element of efficiency," the spokesman said. "There's a lot of booths that are unique just to Detroit. This is the first show of the calendar year. Everybody wants to put their best foot forward. It does kind of set a pace for the rest of the year. Things do move pretty quickly. Right now, you may look around and say, 'Oh my gosh, with all of the boxes that are still out, how do they get it done?' There's a little bit of a Santa's workshop element that goes on here. It all gets done and it will all be shining come Jan. 10."

Can we expect to see big reveals like in the past? Chrysler has previously used a herd of cattle to promote its Ram truck and once drove a Jeep through the front windows of the building.

"I think there's still an element of while the industry is making a comeback, I don't think anyone is popping champagne corks at this point that we're back to those kind of days," Locricchio explained. "I think the savvy automakers recognize that there's a 'show' element in auto show. I think you're going to see some very unique things. I don't know if cattle is going to be one of them up and down the street, which I'm sure makes sanitation a lot easier. We're definitely going to see some things we're the cars are going to be the stars and there's a backdrop of a show element there. The real savvy automakers are going to take advantage of that."

In the basement of Cobo (Michigan Hall), there will be a new exhibit called Smarter Living in Michigan. It will expand the ride-and-drive activity with new booths that have never been on display in the past.

"What we've kind of done is expanded that theme to a more lifestyle oriented configuration," the spokesman continues, "Yes, we still have the test track where the alternative vehicles can be driven down there. But with MEDC and DTE Energy, we've kind of gone to a more lifestyle element. If you do in fact buy an electric car down the line, what's that going to mean for your house. How are you going to charge it? Where are you going to buy chargers? In the shorter term, you want to revise your house to be a bit more green. With the exhibitors that are down there, everything from solar panel manufacturers to log cabins to all sorts of configurations of things you can do right now to make your lifestyle a little bit more green."

The auto show was first held at Riverview Park. After moving to several different venues, Cobo became the home to the auto show in 1965. It takes about ten weeks, an entire college semester, to build and construct the auto show. Construction of the auto show began in late October. The auto show employs over 700 Teamsters, carpenters, stagehands, electricians, riggers and ironworkers. The 2011 NAIAS is the 104th auto show in Detroit.

"We're extremely excited about what 2011 is going to bring," Locricchio added. "Looking at it in a three-year span in a movie analogy, 2009 some saw as a horror movie. Was the show going to survive? Certainly, we've proved a lot of people wrong. 2010 was more along the lines of a dramatic comedy. There was a lot of smiles, but there was also a lot of plot twists. I think what you get with 2011 is the feel good film of the year in that a lot of the promises that had been eluded to in the first two years are coming to fruition. That's what's really critical about what the show is going to provide."

The Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan LEAF make up the three finalists for the 2011 North American Car of the Year. The Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee are the three finalists for the 2011 North American Truck of the Year. The winners of both awards will be announced on the first press day at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The North American International Auto Show opens to the media on Jan. 10 and 11. The industry preview will take place on Jan. 12 and 13. Don’t forget about the charity preview, which is scheduled for Jan. 14. You’ll have your chance to see the auto show during the public show days, which run from Jan. 15 to 23.

Jason Rzucidlo reporting inside Cobo Center for AmericaJR.com.

Click here to register to win a pair of free tickets to the 2011 NAIAS Public Show Days.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Boxes and other construction materials inside Cobo Center

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A construction worker passes by the smart and Hyundai displays at the 2011 NAIAS.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

This area of the auto show will feature displays by Hyundai and Acura.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Construction workers are putting the final touches on the new Toyota display.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Another part of the Toyota exhibit at the 2011 NAIAS.

 

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This page was last updated on Tue, January 4, 2011 3:34 AM

 

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