North America

A Tour of the Automotive World at the Detroit International Auto Show

If you are an automobile aficionado, an international auto show is pretty close to nirvana. The Detroit International Auto Show took place this past weekend, and this show has always been on my bucket list. First of all, it’s the largest in the world. But most importantly, it takes place in my own backyard. As a Michigander, I traveled down I-94 to check out one of Motown’s most important events of the year.

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I spent the night before staying across the border in Windsor, Ontario. Affordable hotels were virtually sold out in downtown Detroit. Meanwhile, ice on the Detroit river was breaking up and floating south towards Lake Erie.

I visited the Detroit International Show on the final day, a Sunday, and I was surprised by how big it was. I had lunch in Greektown and gambled a little bit at the Greektown Casino where parking is much cheaper. I then took the People Mover — Detroit’s monorail — to the COBO Center, the city’s very modern and massive venue for special events. As I took the escalators down to the concourses, I soon encountered large crowds of all ages. This was great news for Detroit’s economy, though a staff worker told me the day before was the busiest of the entire show.

Greektown People Mover Station

Greektown People Mover Station

After I bought my $13 ticket, I entered the exhibition hall and it was an immediate wow experience throughout the afternoon. I would summarize the show with these observations:

Welcome to Pure Michigan

Welcome to Pure Michigan and the COBO Center

I expected the show would feature manufacturers with multimedia presentations and interactive exhibits, but the booths blew me away. Many of these exhibits presented cars spinning on platforms accompanied by dramatic lighting, high-energy music, and glamorous models in high heels promoting the vehicles.

Maserati

Maserati Alfieri

Many of the exhibitors had a special draw. Volvo had a futuristic tour of their concept cars via Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets in a specially designed room. Honda brought Ryan Hunter-Reay’s winning car from the 2014 Indianapolis 500, while Mercedes displayed their team trophy and Lewis Hamilton’s car that won the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship at Abu Dhabi last year.

Ryan Hunter-Reay's winning Honda from the 2014 Indy 500

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s winning Honda from the 2014 Indy 500

Lewis Hamilton's F1 championship car from Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton’s 2014 F1 championship car from Abu Dhabi.

For the most part, the salesmen and saleswomen were some of the best public speakers and presenters I have ever seen. From their speaking skills to product knowledge to the way they were dressed, this was world-class salesmanship. Additionally, the trade models also knew the product well, which I didn’t expect.

Porsche exhibit

Porsche exhibit

Cayman

New Porsche Cayman GTS

Targa

The debut of Porsche’s 911 Targa 4 GTS

911

The new Porsche 911 Turbo S

Tesla rear seating

Tesla rear seating

China's Guangzhou Auto Company Group

China’s Guangzhou Auto Company Group

Mini Cooper's roadster

Mini Cooper’s roadster

The new BMW M6

The new BMW M6

The BMW i8 ... electric competitor to Tesla

The BMW i8 … electric competitor to Tesla

Cadillac ATSV

The Cadillac ATS-V Coupe

Cadillac engine

Cadillac’s ATS V-Series supercharged engine: a 3.6 liter twin turbo producing more than 450 horsepower

You would expect Ford, GM and Chrysler to go all out given their Detroit roots, but they truly owned this show. Their budgets are massive and I imagine they immediately begin planning for next year right after the show ends. One luxury car salesman told me he was even wowed by Ford’s display.

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New Chevy Corvette Z06

Actually, display is probably not the word to describe Ford’s presence. It was more like an experience. Ford featured scores of vehicles, prototypes, historical exhibits and even a second-level observation area for special guests. They unveiled the most track-capable production Mustang of all time, the GT350R, and a second-generation of its off-road menace, the F-150 Raptor. But the highlight was the new Ford GT super car. Next year will mark 50 years since the GT40 won the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 2016 GT is expected to run at the 2016 Le Mans. The 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 produces more than 600 horsepower and goes from 0-60 in about three seconds! The multimedia presentation was slick and impressive!

Ford Raptor concept truck

Ford Raptor concept truck

The Ford GT supercar

The Ford GT supercar

If you ever have a chance to visit the Detroit International Auto Show, I highly recommend it. Other upcoming major auto shows this year include Chicago (Feb. 12 – Feb. 22), Geneva (March 3 – March 15), New York (April 1- April 12), Frankfurt (Sept. 17 – Sept. 27), Paris (Oct. 1 – Oct 17), Los Angeles (Nov. 17 – Nov. 30) and Tokyo (Nov. 25 – Dec. 6).

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