Auto Show Observations

Not a question, but today (I was bored) I went to the denver “international auto show” (this year’s touring new car show) just to see what was being shown. Aside from not being very very interested in all the plastic cars full of gadgets, I did have an observation.

Despite all the hype about fuel efficiency, the vast majority of the vehicles on display were trucks, SUVs, large cross-overs, and a few remaining mini-vans. There was a smattering of real performance cars, a couple of hybrids, and a few traditional econo-boxes. There were plenty of off-road accessories for hummers and full size trucks. I was just surprised that there wasn’t any apparent movement towards smaller. more efficient cars. I guess we know where all the profit margin really is.

Even my daughters (who I dragged along) observed that there wasn’t anything except “big stupid trucks” to look at. The only thing my 17 year old seemed interested in was a mini cooper convertible and and a very nicely restored XK-140 that was there to promote an upcoming concours d’elegance.

I agree with you Craig–as I usually do.

In fact, from what I have read, the “really big news” from Detroit this year is the return of the Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger–both with a big emphasis on high performance. It sounds to me like the US automakers have a death wish, in light of gas that will soon be $4.00 a gallon and rising.

Between hulking SUVs and these new pony cars, I think that Detroit is just not getting the message that foreign manufacturs have heard loud and clear for so many years. I can hardly wait for the new crop of Blue Tech diesel cars, but somehow I don’t think that I will be able to buy a US-produced one as soon as I will be able to buy a foreign-made one, and that would represent a major tactical error for Detroit.

Yup, the 3 domestics all had big displays of the “new pony cars” including some restored examples of their original namesakes. The only diesels I saw were the E320 bluetec and some full size truck diesels. The asian manufacturers had some small cars, but even they seemed to be pushing their bigger, higher-end cars. The only small euro cars I saw were VWs (and they had their share of larger cars too).

There is nothing to be alarmed about. The various models that monopolize these auto shows do not reflect the real-world buying trends. The marketing divisions of the manufacturers have worked out that it is not Mom & Pop who attend these extravaganzas. So they leave their bread-and-butter cars back in the showroom. The vehicles on display are those that would appeal to the typical attendees, the “more horsepower is better (grunt, grunt)” crowd. Indeed, did you really go to see a lineup of Civics, Corollas, and Focuses? Maybe a Malibu or G6? Show me the latest Testarossa!

I’m not exactly alarmed, but I was a little surprised at the absence of economy cars. Actually, there were lots of “mom and pop” cars but they were mostly various quasi-minivans and non of them were small. It was all about video screens and fold-away seats.

Maybe it could be that while we want/need more fuel efficient (spelling) cars us Americans still want room and some performance therefore we see “big stupid trucks” (lol).

I want to digress here. Every time the automakers have gone after making a replica of a Japanese car they have lost heavily in the market. People associate an American car with garish styling and a huge engine.
If you take out the Fleet sales, the only category in which the domestics are doing well is the Truck and the newly revived muscle car. The technlogy has changed a lot and a Corvette Z06 with a 7 litre engine will give you 24-25 MPG if you dont get on it (observed fact). My mustang gives 25 MPG every day with a huge V8 which is nowhere as sophisticated as the Corvette engine. The new Chrysler Hemi (if it works correctly) is also very fuel efficient for its size.
If they have to win the 3 midgets will have to play to their strengths which is Muscle Cars and trucks. The sensible people have a huge selection of foreign vehicles which are designed for their crowd.
I respect Craig’s opinion very highly, but the facts are what they are.
I cannot however, for the life of me understand that whay dont the local manufacturers play up the diesel trucks which they are finally introducing. Dodge Ram will soon have a new Cummins V8 EPA 2010 compliant. The same engine will also feature in their SUV lineup. A diesel is nothing to be ashamed of in a truck. It gives all the troque without the fuel penalty.

It might be that you are in Denver and they slanted the car show to the local market. I went to the LA car show in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There were a lot of small cars there.

That’s very possible.

I didn’t make the auto show this year in columbus, and some of the pictures I took last year are still on my phone(forgot to take my big camera). There were just about every make and model there(from Hyundai to Rolls Royce), including the hydrogen H3 hummer, a few hybrids and a diesel truck or two.
Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures, but I didn’t realize till I got home that they were like that. <-- a picture of my fist inside the tip of a muffler from a Nitto sponsored Scion tC

Last year they had a Hummer H2 sut on display that was parked on an incline of about 45 degrees, right in front of it was an H3 SUV. so, if the parking brakes had failed on that H2, the result would be crushed to death between to huge vehicles

Given a choice I’d rather drive a big stupid truck and/or muscle car over some boring appliance-like yet fuel efficient small car. That’s just me though.

so many vehicles to choose from,and just cant satisfy anyone. I say walk then! plenty of cool shoes out there.
IT IS WHAT IT IS,no more ,no less,bye!

Big companies with long product development cycles typically respond slowly to market changes. Some respond faster than others but they all have an inherent lag for a number of difficult to overcome reasons. Not unlike a tsunami, the earth moves, the vibration is felt soon after but the wave follows some distance behind. Once started, it is difficult and costly to stop, if it can be stopped at all.

Honestly, I’m not about to buy an econo-box either (and I have no use for trucks). If I wanted a muscle car, I would go buy a real 60s vintage car, not a plastic clone anyway.

I was just commenting on the difference between the hype and the actual cars that they seem to be pushing.

If what you say is true, and it could be, then US manufacturers are definitely doomed. Japanese manifacturers now can out-truck and out-SUV Detroit if they want to, and when things get tough, they will simlpy produce more good economy cars, and reduce the gas guzzlers.

The guy that currently buys these big mothers will soon be a dinosaur as well.

Ford and GM make some good cars overseas, but these never seem to be competitive in the North American market, or they lack the reliability we expect. Saturn is making an honest effort to translate European designs (German, Swedish) in to a saleable US car. I wish them luck.

Some company will find the right car soon. If There was a 2008 car that ran just like an 83 corolla SR5, they could make some money. It had one major option, a cassette deck. It must have been capable of 44 MPG, maybe more. What could it have done as a two seater?

Might have to do with location.

I went to the Boston show this past November. There were far fewer SUV’s then previous years. The big push were the cross-over vehicles…and hybrids…Everyone was touting better gas mileage…Personally I wanted to see the new SUV’s…but not too many new ones out.

A good close friend in high school was killed in a relatively low speed collision by a drunk driver in one of those tin cans (early 80’s corolla). I will take a heavier modern vehicle due to safety design and systems any day. The image of the twisted hulk remains.

Also, I haven’t gone to one of these shows in several years so maybe there were fewer SUVs/trucks/mini-vans/crossovers than recent years. I guess I was just expected to see a real push towards small cars after all the recent whining about fuel prices. I just don’t understand why folks seem to want a vehicle that will carry everything they own plus their entire extended family.

I hadn’t really though about it, but I guess the required front seat air bags are driving (otherwise sane) people into buy these giant circus wagons so they can carry more than two kids. Talk about unintended consequences, required air bags (probably well intentioned) is causing people to buy these silly oversize vehicles which are probably making the roads less safe for everyone else.

I own a SUV (4Runner)…Hope you’re NOT putting vehicles like this in what you call the Giant Circus Wagons!!!

Personally I don’t see a need for these HUGH SUV’s. I’d like a smaller one myself…but I need the towing capacity…And this is about as small as I can get that still tows 3k lbs SAFELY. And I still don’t know why the Diesel version of these vehicles is NOT offered yet here in the US…Been in Europe and South America for YEARS.