show spokesman Sam Locricchio was right. He told me
that the 2011 show would be like 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." Indeed it was! A total of 735,370
people visited Cobo Center for the NAIAS during public
days. If you add in the news media, the industry preview
attendees, all of the construction workers and product
specialists, it's safe to say that 1 million people
saw the auto show from the time it was being set up
until the last day it was taken down.
had over 5,500 media in, all our floor space is sold-out,
we had close to 40 worldwides," said 2011 NAIAS
Chairman Barron Meade in an exclusive interview. "It's
coming back in a very positive way. Most of the stands
here today are 70 percent new. That's great dollars
for our local economy. Right now, we're looking at
a 25,000 square foot expansion on Oakland Hall. The
$80 million is already appropriated. For next year's
show, we should have another 25,000 square feet."
was up for nearly every day that the auto show was
open to the public. It equals to a 3 percent increase
over 2010's figures. The single-day record was broken
for a Friday with 75,327 this year, beating the previous
record from 1993. The total economic impact for metro
Detroit is between $350 million and $375 million from
visitors spending money on hotels, transportation,
catering and entertainment.
hometown manufacturers won," Meade said about
the 2011 North American Car and Truck of the Year
Awards winners. "Chevrolet with the Volt, built
right here in Hamtramck and Ford with the Explorer.
Ford's been doing great the last three years. That's
all good for Michigan. Every corner of Cobo is filled
with beautiful cars, beautiful displays, interactive
displays that show you and teach you the latest in
automotive technology. This year is been a great year
with all of the positive messages. Now, I can leave
the show in great hands to Mr. Perkins."
I first walked inside Cobo Center on the first media
day, I was surprised. It looked like Detroit was hosting
the Academy Awards. Everything was sparkling and shiny
with so many lights. The automaker displays were larger
than in past year. General Motors and Volkswagen both
had two-level displays. There were more automakers
than in past years. The only thing that was missing
was the red carpet! Mercedes-Benz even brought in
pop star Colbie Caillat to sing her hit single "Bubbles"
during its press conference.
is definitely a more upbeat show, much better than
the last two years," said Jonathan Linkov, managing
editor of Autos for Consumer Reports magazine.
"There's actual cars that you're going to see
on the road. There's not a lot of high-minded concepts
that really don't have a likelihood of getting on
the streets. Look at the Hyundai Sonata, that's an
excellent family sedan. The BMW 3-Series is here,
you have some MINI vehicles, Volkswagen CC. You can
see some of the new KIA products, we're really impressed
with the KIA Sorento."
had a very large display in the center of the building,
with added space for its new brands, Fiat and Ram.
Dodge is now strictly a car brand while Ram is the
truck brand. The automaker held two press conferences,
but it wasn't the type of splash that we saw from
them in the past. There were no cattle going up and
down Washington Boulevard and there were no Jeeps
being driven through the front window of Cobo as we've
seen in previous auto shows. However, they did show
the media that they are really back in business and
here to stay for a long time.
Ford Flex, The Ford Fusion, excellent vehicles that
test very well," Linkov explained. "What
we found with the redesigned [Lincoln] MKX as well
as the Ford Edge is that they're pretty good vehicles
overall. The MyFord Touch and the MyLincoln Touch
systems really drag down their scores. These are the
infotainment systems. They're an evolution of the
SYNC system. But they're very hard to use, they're
very difficult to use. They actually take away a lot
of your attention when you're driving the vehicle
and make you focus on using those systems. We think
they are more of a distraction than asset to the driver."
Motor Co. had it's biggest display at an auto show
to date. The automaker got rid of its Mercury and
Mazda brands. So it only showed vehicles by Ford and
Lincoln. There was some empty space in the middle
so Ford decided to include a small track for test
drives of its Ford Electric Focus and Ford Transit
is an interesting absence for Nissan," the managing
editor of Autos for Consumer Reports magazine
added. "It doesn't really seem that the Michigan
area and even this area of the country is going to
be a prime area for LEAF. They're focusing on the
west coast, even the east coast and the Tennessee
area. It would have been nice for them to show it.
It does probably hurt them a bit to keep out of the
mind of everybody. I mean, this is an international
show, not just for the local area. For them not to
be here, it does kind of get them off of the journalists'
and Infiniti did not have a booth at the NAIAS. That
was an strange business decision especially with the
recent launch of the LEAF electric vehicle. One LEAF
was on display during the SAA Automotive Outlook Conference,
however it was not during the public show days. The
automaker vowed to return to the Detroit auto show
have 99 percent of North America's volume represented
at  NAIAS," Meade added.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) toured the auto
show along with new Lt. Governor Brian Calley (R).
In addition, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) also visited
the 2011 NAIAS.
are pretty exciting things you're seeing," Calley
said in an exclusive interview. "The products
that are being unveiled and the reinvention of the
auto industry are real similar to the type of reinvention
we need here in the state. This is one of my favorite
events each year. Particularly, the last four years
and watching the emergence of new technologies in
this industry. It's wonderful to see our domestic
auto industry turn a corner. It's exciting when you
think the way that they've done it. They've put forth
a different business model, a customer-driven product
line and the future's bright."
attendees were pleased by what they saw at this year's
was my first time at the auto show," said Tim
Ham of Grand Rapids, Mich. "I've wanted to go
for a number of years, but never quite made it. Last
opportunity I had was probably 10 or 11 years ago.
I had to look at a couple of my favorite manufacturers.
Honda and Ford particularly, I'm just now making it
over here to Chevrolet. I'm very, very impressed by
the Chevy Volt. Right now, I'm a student at Western
Michigan University. My Marine unit is looking to
deploy not too long from now. Electric vehicles, hybrids,
there's a lot of companies that looked to bring this
stuff to market. Chevy were the first ones to get
some said they were looking for a few of the automakers
to step it up some more on their new models.
like the Jaguar XJ, that's my favorite," said
Anna Hume of Ferndale, Mich. "I think it was
good. BMW was alright, I was expecting a little more
from them. There's a lot of hands-on activities that
you can learn about the car, little games and stuff.
It's great for Detroit, got to love it."
CEO's say the industry has turned a corner