January 13, 2009


Dee-troit

Back from the auto show...quiet, quiet, quiet. If felt distressingly like a visitation to a funeral home, in some ways.

The Big Three had their giant-screened presentations, and I swear they used the words 'green' 'electric' and 'alternate' over and over, until it just seemed like a blur.

And, in (what I thought) was a pretty hilarious dichotomy, the Hyundai Genesis - a v8 - was announced car of the year. And the F150, truck of the year. By journalists. Excuse me? Is anyone listening to anyone else? And when you figure that the F150 was the top selling anything last year in the States, you have to wonder if consumers really give a crap or not. They're like a bunch of preschoolers. Take away all their cookies, they go crazy. Give 'em all back their cookies, and they instantly forget they might not always have cookies. Gas prices - apparently something you only consider one day at a time.

Last year was my first year in Detroit. I was flabbergasted at the indulgence. Shoeshines at one booth, neck massages at another, booze flowing freely all day with bars in many booths, fabulous lattes and cappuccinos, it was crazy. At night, GM hosted - as they did every year - a huge, huge free-for-all for the journos. It was nuts. And this was after they'd brought in a huge herd of cattle through the main street in from of the COBO centre to introduce the Dodge Ram. Of course, when two of the animals started humping each other during a big speech, they maybe rethought that idea.

This year, nada. Quiet, quiet, quiet. The crowds were far thinner - last year, you had to literally shoulder your way through. Things may have picked up after I left, but Day One is usually a pretty frantic day. This year? Nope. Part of it was the no-shows - Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Porsche, Ferrari, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and a last minute pull-out, Nissan - but it was something else. Everyone wonders if they're seeing the last of some of the biggees - most obviously Chrysler - and many are aware what returns next year might only be an incarnation of what is here now.

My trek out with my editor, Mark Richardson, was a hoot (see Saturday's column), the weather was cold, though traipsing through a snowy Windsor evening was actually very nice. Wheels.ca has ongoing coverage and some terrific features - check in.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree. Anyone that is in the know, including yourself, and I am talking writers south of the border also, in writings I have been following covering this auto show in Detroit say it will two, maybe one, from now on, but no more Big Three. They have gone the way of the dino. Very disappointing show from what I am hearing. Takes me out of the Toronto show this year.

Rb...

January 14, 2009 8:46 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Detroit going green? How can GM possibly market their CAD$ 100,000 Escalade Hybrid and maintain some kind of dignity or credibility for that matter? As George W. Bush said,"Fool me once [pause], shame on… shame on you. [Long pause] Fool me. [Pause] You can't get fooled again."

January 14, 2009 9:25 AM  
Blogger Nursedude said...

Good point with regards to gas prices. As consumers, most of us have very short memories. Nice thing about the $1.20 /L gas prices? traffic slowed down, fewer vehicles on the road and way fewer SUV's driving full tilt in the far left lane. Now that gas is reasonable again things are back to "normal". I wonder if next years show will be scaled back to a more realistic level of hospitality to reflect the seriousness of the times?

January 14, 2009 12:50 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Dunno how they'll scale it back more, except with more no-shows. It was seriously quiet, and the hospitality hoe-downs were definitely small, off-site, and invite only (which pretty much rules out yours truly, except for the Star, which can't outrun me...)

I don't have a world of experience here - I've only been in the industry a couple of years. But the stories of the hey days are unreal - now, you're lucky to score a free chapstick and a notepad.

January 14, 2009 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ozzie: I totally agree and to go 40 miles, 60 miles in some cases...Doesn't fit my style of driving...Interesting to note in some reports I have read, to recharge these cars will produce more emissions making the electricity to do so then it would to drive the car using gas. It is a long process. Also noted, not one of the car makers state how much it costs to recharge a vehicle. I have seen reports stating it is astronomical. No one can afford to replace a battery should they fail,$8500.00. There is no recycling in place, to my knowledge, to handle these large batteries, and the costs to repair these vehicles? Not ever garage will be able too do it, so the manufacturers have a field day in repairing them. They are just not worth the value right now. Maybe 10 years down the road they might. Not a vehicle you want to be travelling up north in...

Rb...

January 15, 2009 7:32 AM  
Blogger DJ said...

With the exception of a 78 Lada that I paid $5 for (about what it was worth) and a string of GM's built in Mexico, I have never owned a foreign car.
I have a friend that wants to replace is aging Toyota with a newer Japanese make. His experience has been that the prices of used Honda's Toyota's and the like are skyrocketing, while the Big Three prices are plummeting. People are shying away from NA cars as they think they if they go down, they won't be able to get parts and support.

Now, my personal issue. my Detroit built car has a defective $0.49 part in the transaxle. A service bulletin was issued 10 years ago stated that if it broke, it was covered. Then.
Now mines broke, and it ain't covered. It will be over $600 to replace the $0.49 part.
I'm thinking that it they were just wishing it wouldn't break.

Cross our fingers warranty?

Same thing with a 'lifetime' warranty I had on defective springs.
Apparently 'lifetime' is 10 years.

I could go on, but I have to watch my blood pressure.

In my opinion, the Big Three's imminent demise is their own doing.

DJW

January 15, 2009 10:55 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

It took GM 30 years to get where they are now. I have no sympathy for them at all. Ford was better run, but they aren't immune to short sightedness or pettiness.Chrysler...a badly run company except for the brief era when Iaccoca was there. After Lutz took over they built... the Viper.
A torque steering pic with no trunk, no space and no top. I'll pass guys.

January 19, 2009 2:26 PM  

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