With attendance up by over twenty one thousand and the breaking of a single day attendance record the 2011 North American International Auto Show marked the return of the auto industry and we present our list the winners and losers at this year’s event
At LotPro.com we take note that the 2011 Detroit Auto Show marked the resurgence of the auto industry. Unlike last year, a number of manufacturers returned to Detroit with multi-level exhibits replete with buffets and customer lounges.
As we have in the past, spending three days on the show floor has given us some insight into this year’s winners and losers, the results of which are displayed forthwith:
Big Winner – Porsche Cars North America
Porsche returned to Detroit in a big way in 2011. Media days began with the Porsche breakfast at 6:00 a.m. Monday and the company didn’t disappoint. No sooner had members of the press gathered around the multi-level display when Porsche unveiled the 918 RSR concept.
The performance coupe, dressed up in retro Gulf livery, gives us a glimpse of where the company’s alternative energy performance vehicles are headed. And if this is the future, we’re ready to go along for the ride (which might be difficult in the 918, given the location of Porsche’s “flywheel accumulator”)
Big Loser – Nissan North America
For the third year in a row, Nissan was a no-show in Detroit. Last year, company spokesman Scott Vazin explained the absence by stating that the company was asking “What we get out of this” when it comes to the expense of auto shows. As far as we’re concerned it’s a lot like sports or the lottery: you can’t win if you don’t play.
Nissan, by the way, has announced that it plans to return to Detroit in 2012.
Winners – Hyundai and Kia
The Koreans kept up the pressure with two concepts – the Kia KV-7 and the Hyundai Curb – as well as a hot-looking but oddly configured 3-door coupe hatch, the Veloster, from Hyundai.
Loser – Acura
We really do like Acuras, but other than a great coffee bar on media days, the only reason one could come up with to pay a visit to Acura was to take a quick nap on one of the comfy chairs in the lounge area at the front of their booth (a nap, by the way, that was only encouraged by the lack of excitement on display).
Winner – Chrysler Group LLC
While a number of “new” products are really warmed-over older ones (a.k.a. the Chrysler 200), there was a feeling at the display that Detroit’s red-headed stepchild is finally taking some steps in the right direction.
The new Chrysler 300 is a stunner and improves on the first generation both inside and out. A slew of cute new Fiats was out in full force, and the Jeep Compass is not only the best-looking of all the refreshed models, it successfully pulls off its “little brother to the Grand Cherokee” look.
Loser – Mazda
We also really, really like Mazdas, but their display had to be one of the most disappointing (and dark) at the show – especially since it sat alongside the absolutely high-tech over-the-top Ford display.
Note to the marketing folks at Mazda: nowadays you have to do more than just show up for the game. You have to come ready to play.
Winner – Ford Motor Company
This must’ve been Ford’s checklist for the show: Start by being awarded North American Truck of the year honors. Check. Hold the press conference at adjoining Cobo Arena and blow most everyone away. Check. Create a spectacular, high-tech display that includes everything from an interactive Mustang dyno test to a test-drive loop featuring alternative vehicles to keep fascinated show goers hanging around for hours. Check.
For GM, there were a number of positives with one question mark.
GM’s exhibit once again lacked much of the pizzazz of previous years (and couldn’t hold a candle to Ford’s), but given the fact that the government still owns a piece of it, we’ll forgive them for the time being.
Although far from exciting, the Chevrolet Cruze is a huge step in the right direction when compared to the outgoing Cobalt. And while the dashboard of the Sonic was just a bit too funky for our tastes, it sure beats the heck out of the forgettable cockpit found in the outgoing Aveo.
Spicing things up a bit, Cadillac displayed the CTS-V Coupe SCCA World Challenge GT race car while GMC unveiled its vision of a Ford Raptor fighter, the GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept.
One question remaining is whether or not there are enough customers out there who will bite on the idea of paying 25 to 30K for what is essentially a dressed up (nicely, mind you) Cruze in the guise of the Buick Verano.