Done in Detroit...
No running of the bulls. Less pyrotechnics. Fewer super cars—for me, this was the best of the eight Detroit auto shows I’ve officially attended.
Instead of floating out fanciful super cars or you’re-never-gonna-see-this concepts, this year’s show was all business. Like watching your teenager take out the garbage without being asked, the rise in the level of maturity from some of the automakers was jaw dropping.
Instead of flashy presentations that always seems directed towards new car buyers instead of the (supposedly) educated media corps, we got some real credible product and business news. And without some surprise or irony, the two most credible reveals came from of all places, two domestic luxury brands: Cadillac and Lincoln.
The Cadillac Converj concept hybrid makes so much sense on so many levels.
First, it looks great. As I was taking some photography of the car in Cobo Hall on Monday, Jaguar head pen Ian Callum was leading a couple of his designers around the car. And I asked him what he thought.
“Great proportions," he said. “They really nailed it.”
On the business side, the Converj is basically a reclothed Chevy Volt, But it’s premium image (and pricing) will help General Motors recoup some of the billions it will spend in getting these cars to market.
And a lesson for Lexus: Hybrids don't need to look dorkey (re new HS250 h.)
And, in sharp contrast to Chrysler’s EV program, GM’s other big news here was the announcement of a partnership with governments, technology partners and education facilities to develop its own lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Michigan—the first major automaker to do so.
Number two on my “I Bee-leeeve!!” list is Ford.
The Blue Oval crew had about a six-month head start on its Detroit rivals when CEO Alan Mulally announced last simmer that they would move up the introduction to North America of some of its excellent small European products. Just one of the reasons Ford is holding off on any government loans.
Preparing for life without its premium Volvo brand, the compact C is a first step in making Lincoln a brand that could be marketed globally. Something you can’t say with any of today’s cars.
Unfortunately, it was hard to believe anything that’s coming out of the mouths of Chrysler’s executives at the show.
While Reuters is reporting that talks with Renault/Nissan to take over Chrysler's assets to get the Jeep brand are well under way again (rumours that Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Tom LaSorda is denying this morning) listening to CEO Bob Nardelli, in Chryslerland the skies are blue, the roses are blooming, and yes, the sun will come out tomorrow.
Unlike other automakers, with no electric power source, or battery supplier confirmed, how Chrysler will ever get its 200C EV concept— based on a shortened version of Chrysler’s large rear-wheel-drive platform—to achieve its 640 km extended range or 64 km all-electric range in production is anyone's guess right now. Puh-leeeze…