The Autoextremist take on the Detroit Auto Show: A Ray of Light, Wandering Weasels, Desultory Dreamers, the Scent of a Nissan and a Hyundai named Desire.
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
(Posted 1/16, 9:00 a.m.) Detroit. The 2013 Detroit Auto Show was the one that was supposed to indicate that the auto biz was back in all of its glory, baby, but that wasn’t exactly the impression that I took away from the proceedings.
Yes, there were some very good things about the show, starting with the rejuvenation of Cobo Hall. To say that the resurrected venue slowly but surely coming into view was an improvement is an understatement of this or any other year. Will it be an instant world-class exposition hall when it is completed in time for next year’s Detroit Auto Show? No, of course not. But at least it won’t be a perennial embarrassment and an insult to this region’s founding industry.
And though it doesn’t sound like that big of deal to outsiders, believe me, it’s a gigantic step in the right direction for the overall scheme of things in this town.
But then again this is an auto show, and I’m not here to talk architecture.
The one thing WordGirl and I noticed about the show was that a reverent hush seemed to hang over the proceedings. Despite some scintillating debuts, it seemed downbeat and restrained, as if the manufacturers had decided to use their inside voices and not make too much noise. Mercedes brought Bruce Hornsby in (yawn), but he just contributed to the hush. Infiniti brought in Cirque de Soleil for their Q50 intro, but that couldn’t mask the giant task facing Johan De Nysschen and his “bold new journey” in the reinvention/reinvigoration of the Infiniti organization from the product up. Ford literally dropped its more-than-a-hint at the next generation of the F-150 pickup – the Atlas – from the rafters in a dramatic touch, but overall the show was q-u-i-e-t. The only sign of irreverence and a little life was the DJ accompanied by two female dancers at the VW display Tuesday morning. For that brief fleeting moment, it actually felt like an auto show.
I get the fact that the products need to (and should) do the talking, but after every single manufacturer spent the first ten minutes touting their sales numbers, I felt like yelling out: “We know you’re the greatest thing since automotive sliced bread and we know you’re going to have another great year on top of the phenomenal year you’ve already had and we know your team members are energized and focused and dialed-in and we know, well, that you’re just so damn glad to be alive but please, for the love of everything Righteous and Holy in the automotive universe, please just shut the hell up and get to the frickin’ point! Thank you.”