Sunday, January 25, 2015

Detroit and Boston Impressions

Alexander Carabitses

Part I:  Detroit Impressions.

Two weeks ago I previewed all of the cars that would debut in Detroit.  I was right about most of them and wrong about a few, but I was also surprised by a few of them.  The Jaguar XE, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Diesel, Buick Avenir, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the Audi Q3 were all unexpected, as was the Mercedes C-Class Plug-in hybrid.  Porsche's debuts were surprises as well, although not really spectacular ones.  I think that was the way that the Detroit Auto Show felt as a whole: not spectacular.  The three highlights were the Ford GT, the Acura NSX, and the Buick Avenir Concept.  Everything else seemed like it could have debuted at any other auto show and would have gotten the exact same coverage; in the grand scheme of things, a lot of the other cars at Detroit were boring, and that it the absolute truth.  The show didn't have a theme at all.  Some companies debuted sports cars, others debuted pickup trucks, there were some fuel efficient vehicle, and some luxury crossovers.  The show was all over the map.  When auto journalists asked executives and designers what the theme of the show was, the head of design at Fiat-Chrysler, Ralph Gilles said that "2014 was about validation, and 2015 is about momentum." I guess that sums up the show, but the show seemed peculiar to me for some reason.  Like I said, the cars that were shown weren't bad, they just didn't speak Detroit.  I say that if you took the Ford GT, the Acura NSX, and the Buick Avenir Concept out of the picture, the show would be considered just as boring as 2009, 2010, or 2011.  The momentum was shown through these three cars, and while cars like the Ford Mustang GT350 R, and Cadillac CTS V were also excellent cars, they could have debuted at LA or New York, and they would have gotten the same amount of media coverage.  So if you look at it that way, why should people really care about the show?

 I also don't think it helped that just about all of the production cars that debuted on the second media day, except for the Ram Rebel had all been leaked, or shown in advance.  It detracted from the excitement if you ask me.  But what really hurt the show was the fact that a lot of the cars that debuted in Detroit aren't going on sale until next year!  This really bothers me, because it detracts from the importance of the show even more.  Important cars like the Ford GT, Ford F150 Raptor, Jaguar XE, Buick Cascada, and Audi Q7, all of which debuted in Detroit aren't going on sale until next year.  So if thats the case, why wouldn't you show those cars in New York, or Detroit next year.  This completely wiped away the relevance of Detroit this year, because the show focused on the momentum that these companies would have next year, but not this year.  LA and New York in 2014 showed where the industry would be headed in 2015 better than Detroit, and those shows can get away with doing that due to their timing.  The 2014 LA Auto Show in November 2014 can get away with having cars debut that aren't going on sale until 2015, because that its the point of the show, due to its timing.  The 2014 New York Auto Show in April showed cars that would go on sale in 2014 and 2015; auto makers can get away with showing those cars due to the show's timing.  But because Detroit falls in January, why did automakers preview the year ahead, when Detroit should preview the year at hand.  It detracts from the so called "momentum" that these car companies had while showing new cars in Detroit.  Then you have brands like Nissan who said that the Titan would go on sale in late 2015.  Nissan said that the new Murano would go on sale in late 2014, and they weren't kidding when they said "late", because dealers in Rhode Island received them in the last two weeks of 2014, which was stupid at best.  If automakers continue this trend, it will detract from the importance of Detroit, and that is something that no one wants to see.

The 2015 North American International Auto Show had some great car, but the show was almost irrelevant due to the timing of launch for these new cars.

Part II:  2015 New England International Auto Show Impressions.

I feel sorry for Boston, because it's car show doesn't represent how great the city really is.  Everyone should know why Boston is so significant to our country's history, and it is one of America's 10 most important cities today.  As far as our country's history is concerned, it is much more important though, but it's auto show doesn't represent that.  It used to be held in December, but then some geniuses decided to have it the exact same week as the Detroit Auto Show (That was such a stupid idea).  The only debut that show has had that I can recall of, is the face lifted version of the previous generation BMW X3 (I'm not even sure how accurate that is, if someone could let me know, that would be great).  If it is true, someone has to explain what BMW was thinking by doing this, because the Boston car show is really nothing more than a consumer show that would love to be big, but can't due to its timing in the auto show season.  And its not the only one.  Shows Miami, Dallas, and Washington D.C. would love to pump themselves up into big deal shows, but even if they did, they would be no bigger than Chicago, which is slowly dwindling in importance as a media show.  In my mind these shows should be content with being consumer shows, because they do it so well.  Boston has a great auto show every year, but its not big enough to be a major international show.  Check out the floor plan here :

There are too many auto shows as it is, and the dealers are the only ones asking for more.  That is why every state no matter how big or small, has its own auto show.  Nothing represents that better than the fact that Motor Trend has auto shows in states that otherwise wouldn't have their own auto shows, like Rhode Island, for example.  As far as cars are concerned, there were a few good things to see.  the new Lincoln MKX was at the show, as was the new Ford Explorer, Lamborghini Huracan, and the Mercedes AMG GT.  The  Dodge Charger Hellcat was there as well.  So long story short, the New England International Auto Show isn't a bad auto show, but its not a great one either.  While it may deserve to be bigger due to the heritage and history of the city, in the automotive world its just as significant as Pittsburg and Denver, and in the grand scheme of things, as much as the people who run the show would love to see it grow, it never will.  If I'm wrong and it does, I still don't expect it to be as big as New York or Los Angles, because if Chicago is struggling to get new car debuts, what makes people think that Boston will do better?  Its a damn shame, but its the truth, whether Bostonians and New Englanders like it or not.

Have a good week, and check out my pictures from the New England International Auto Show below:

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