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2013 North American International Auto Show

 

 

Automotive News World Congress: 'The electric car is not dead!" says GM's Mark Reuss

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Mark Reuss, Vice President of North America for General Motors, addresses the Automotive News World Congress on Jan. 16, 2013.

 

by Gloria Rzucidlo
gloria1025@yahoo.com

 

 

DETROIT -- I had the opportunity to attend the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. The topic was "Driving Change: Global Uncertainties--Local Opportunities." Peter Brown, Publisher & Editorial Director, told everyone "Please see the (auto) show." He also led us into the presentation of the 14th Annual Global Automotive Shareholder Value Awards, which recognized the top companies for their total shareholder value return performance.

Dave Breen, Greater Michigan Managing Partner PwC, announced that Lithia Motors won the U.S. Automotive Retailers category with Bryan DeBoer, CEO, accepting their award. Global Automotive Parts Suppliers one-year winner went to Continental AG and the three-year winner went to Plastic Omnium, with Mark Sullivan, CEO, accepting their award. The Global Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers category one-year winner was Volkswagen AG and the three-year winner was BMW Group.

Next was the presentation of the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy to the 2012 Indianapolis 500 winner and the BorgWarner Team Owner's Trophy, which were presented by Tim Manganello, Chairman and CEO of BorgWarner. The driver's trophy went to Dario Franchitti along with his team owner, Chip Ganassi. "Tonight we are here to honor Dario Franchitti and Chip Ganassi," Manganello said. "The 2012 victory represented his third victory at Indy. When he wins his fourth race, notice I said 'when,' then, he will be trying for his fifth. Chip continues to be one of the most successful and innovative owners in history." Also, he announced we had a special guest in the room, Parnelli Jones.

"I never get tired of coming up here," said Chip Ganassi. "This guy is a consummate professional (referring to Dario). Only Foyt, Andretti and Unser have more wins than Dario." He said Dario is really an awesome racer. "My calendar is open for next year."

Dario Franchitti made the following remarks: "I love Detroit. I love the people that live here. We couldn't have done it without Honda. All season the pace of development, power and fuel consumption was exceptional." He thanked BorgWarner. Franchitti said we get many things for winning: a nice pace car, a belt buckle the size of a dinner plate, but it is this trophy that means the most to the drivers. He also added that Parnelli is a friend of his whom he admires.

Parnelli Jones spoke a few words and said, "When I saw this BorgWarner trophy, I said--I gotta have one of those."

Keith Crain, Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News, served as the emcee. "This next speaker really has gasoline in his blood." That would be Mark Reuss.

"Doesn't Parnelli look like an astronaut?" said Mark Reuss, GM's President of North America. "He's really and truly an American hero. Congratulations to Dario and Chip for their win in Indy, but next time I want you to win in a Chevy." There were laughs from the audience.

"Chevrolet and Cadillac was about as good as it gets in racing, the GM vice president added. "We have a great weekend at Belle Isle, called The Duel in Detroit. We are going to see some nice engines in Cadillac ATS. The engineers that do that will be our brightest and best." Reuss also read a quote from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. He also said that this week is exhausting, exciting and exhilerating but we love it and it's worth it. The North American Car of the Year was the Cadillac ATS. It is arguably the most competitive car in its segment.

"Another car we are proud of is the Corvette," Reuss explained. "This was the best Corvette ever made in history. It will appeal to a whole new generation. The DNA is all Corvette. It has 450 hp with 450 pounds of torque, a new seven-speed manual transmission for perfect shifts and a five-position drive mode selector. Stingray is the base Corvette. It is an all-aluminum structure and an incredible achievement with 50-50 weight balance. This car is very special to me.

"There is an urban myth, the electric car is not dead! We are not trying to catch up. You might think that, but you are dead wrong. It takes a long time to change habits, but people will come around. We will get there. We will get to a time where an electric vehicle will get 300 miles of range. Next generation will be even better."

The Cadillac ELR, electric vehicle, has quite a bit of difference on performance than the Volt. This makes a massive statement of what Detroit and Cadillac can do. Production of the ELR will begin in the fourth quarter. Today our house is in order. Seventy percent is new or refreshed nameplates and we are spending eight billion in product development per year.

Next was Wilbur Ross, Chairman and CEO of W.L. Ross & Co. LLC, who asked "How the auto industry will change in the future? Politicians are pushing environmental issues. There are only a few electric autos now, but that will change. Compressed gas will run in buses and garbage trucks. We must lower weight to substitute other materials than steel. A cost efficient solution is downsizing the vehicle. New electronics will change auto interior design.

"Traffic congestion may limit the long-term growth of sales. Beijing has five million cars. New York City is just one-fifth as painful as Beijing or even Mexico City. Beijing air pollution has broken all records. They still don't have tighter emission standards. In Beijing, they added four new subway lines in 2012 for a total of 16. Mass transit will fill 60 percent of the city's transportation needs. Many young people live in urban areas, so there is access to mass transportation. Therefore they are not purchasing cars. Car ownership will be highly concentrated in the big cities. The percent of working-age people has declined to 63 and a half percent now. Another option is Avis Zip-car. It is the largest car sharer. It offers renting cars by the hour."

Ross added: "Chinese manufacturers will come to the U.S. sooner rather than later. Most cars' age on the road is 11 years. They will be ready to buy new ones. Cheap auto financing is available today. Low interest rates in the U.S. can replace older cars. We can increase sales from 2012 levels."

This concluded the Automotive News World Congress, which was held in the Renaissance Ballroom at the Detroit Renaissance Center.

For more information about the Automotive News World Congress, visit www.autonews.com.

Related Stories: Pickup trucks to make a resurgence in 2013, analysts say; Chinese automakers facing hurdles in entering U.S. market; What to Look For at the 2013 North American International Auto Show; Honda introduces the Urban SUV Concept at 2013 NAIAS; Ford EcoBoost Technology: Transitioning to Gasoline Fuel Efficiency; Comparing two multi-purpose vehicles: Scion xB vs. Fiat 500L; Lincoln debuts the MKC Concept crossover vehicle at 2013 NAIAS; Chevrolet shows off its redesigned 2014 Silverado pickup truck at 2013 NAIAS; Hyundai reveals the HCD-14 Genesis Concept at 2013 NAIAS; Volkswagen introduces its Cross Blue Concept plug-in hybrid at 2013 NAIAS; Jaguar debuts 2014 F-Type S two-door roadster at 2013 NAIAS; Hyundai at the 2013 North American International Auto Show; Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Maserati Quattroporte discussed at 2013 Autoweek Design Forum

 

 

PHOTO BY JEROME RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The PwC Shareholder Value Awards were also presented on the second day of the World Congress.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

BorgWarner CEO Tim Manganello presented the Borg Warner Trophy for the final time since he is retiring.

 

PHOTO BY JEROME RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

IndyCar Driver Dario Franchitti accepts the award, which is presented to the winner of the previous year's Indianapolis 500 race.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Wilbur Ross, Chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co. LLC, was the final speaker of the night.

 

PHOTO BY JEROME RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Peter Brown, Publisher and Editorial Director of Automotive News

 

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