Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 North American International Auto Show. The early view from Detroit

Every year, the collective eyes of the automotive industry turn to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit to see all the latest concept and production vehicles from auto manufacturers throughout the world.  This is arguably the most important car show anywhere, but it doesn’t open to the public until Saturday.  Well, it doesn’t open to the regular public.  I was already there, earlier this week, for the media preview.  That means you, the readers of Hover Motor Company, also get an advanced look at this incredible event.

Ford always does it big in the Motor City, and this year was no exception.  While most manufacturers just rip a tarp off of their new cars within the confines of their floor display, the Blue Oval bunch rents out the Joe Lewis Arena to reveal their latest vehicles.  From the production side, they showed off the refreshed Transit Connect, and all-new Transit vans.  The Transit may not be too exciting on the surface, but the full-sized van market is very competitive.  Plus, this new vehicle will be built alongside the F-150 in Kansas City’s Claycomo Assembly Plant.

Ford also brought out their F-150 Atlas F-150 Concept truck.  The silvery concept looked pretty rugged with its beefy grille and cobalt blue lighting.  They introduced it by dropping it from the ceiling while a live band played in the background and guys welded steel girders in a shower of sparks.  Big cheese execs Bill Ford and Alan Mulally were there to give it the proper credentials.  This was exactly the kind of presentation that makes the Detroit show great.

Cadillac had a big time at this year’s NAIAS.  The ATS, which I recently reviewed here, was crowned “NAIAS Car of the Year.”  They also introduced the Cadillac ELR, which looks kind of like a miniature CTS Coupe.  But under that origami bodywork was the basic battery/gas-powered generator setup as the Chevrolet Volt.  Expect a version this car to go into production in the near future.  Cadillac also displayed the Cien Concept car.  This one has been around awhile, but it’s still quite impressive.

Chrysler’s corporate display was mostly full of Chargers and Darts with MOPAR accessories.  That Fiat 500 with the MOPAR license plate was a bit odd.  But they did introduce a newly restyled Jeep Grand Cherokee in either diesel or SRT-8 form.  This isn’t a huge departure from the old style, but there are numerous improvements.  They also had some new Fiat 500L’s, which are a homely four-door version of the current 500.  And the Ram 1500 won the “NAIAS Truck of the Year.”

Buick’s display was interesting to me.  They didn’t have anything new, and there were no concepts or extra special vehicles.  But every time we walked by there, people that appeared to be Chinese were posing for pictures with them.  Normally I wouldn’t even think about taking a picture of a blue LaCrosse with the small wheel option at a show like this, but these folks were treating it like Justin Bieber’s Ferrari. It just goes to show how popular this brand is in the East.

There were a few interesting older vehicles sprinkled throughout the show.  The introduction of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, which is covered in detail here, was enhanced by the presence of previous generation Corvettes from 1954, 1972, 1987, 2001, and 2013.  Chevy also had a Corvair Greenbrier van in which you could get your picture taken for a flip book.  Ford’s display featured the oldest surviving Ford, a 1903 Model A.  They also had an exceptionally nice ’48 pickup, which was there to commemorate the 65th-anniversary of the F-Series.  Mab Motors had a '70 Mustang Mach 1 that glowed in the dark.  And Covisint brought out James Bond's iconic '64 Aston Martin DB5, complete with parking light machine guns.

The exotic cars were also fun to look at.  Bentley introduced a new GT Speed convertible.  Maserati unveiled their new Quattroporte.  Ferrari displayed a new F-12 Berlinetta alongside a Formula 1 race car, and Mercedes showed a striking SLS AMG Black Series.  I don’t know how many cars they sell by being at this show, but it makes you feel a little more sophisticated just by being near them.

The North American International Auto Show is something that I have really enjoyed going to the past several years.  It is definitely where all the action is in the automotive world.  Check out the slideshow below for lots of pictures from Detroit, or click this link for a better version of the slideshow.


  1. Thanx for posting ; youre a tougher man than I wading thru that sea of aesthetic nightmares. Each year I think 'They cant get any uglier'. Each year I am wrong.

  2. Some folks like old cars. Some people like new cars. Some people like hot rods. Some people like customs. Some like race cars, or classics, or muscle cars. Me, I like all of them. Hang around here, and whatever type of car you like will probably be covered at some point.

  3. Craig:
    Excellent slideshow...lots of nice "toys"...and I have to say that the new STINGRAY would appear wonderfully sadistic on ANY highway.
    Still like that Merc AMG, though.
    Thanks for posting this event.

    Happy Motoring.