Steve Cropley reports, plus latest show pics and launch details of all the key cars
9 December 2010

Ask yourself the following question: what would you have said a year ago if you’d learned that in 2010, at the Detroit Motor Show, the latest Ferraris and Maseratis would be exhibited as part of a vast Chrysler group exhibit, with Ram trucks on one side, Jeep off-roaders on the other, and a new Lancia Delta – familiar except for its new Chrysler badge and grille – would be parked just yards away on the same piece of carpet?

Obviously, you wouldn’t have believed it. Yet this week in the Motor City it happened. Such have been the monumental changes in the car industry this past 18 months that practically anything seems possible.

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Detroit motor show - blogs

Who got it right and wrong?

Fiat now controls Chrysler, but for US consumption it has to look the other way around, so the Fiat Group is using all its assets – including the great marques of Modena and Maranello – to give legs to the extraordinary new deal. It made one of the most remarkable motor industry sights of modern times, but we’d better get used to it. Mercurial Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne clearly intends to spare no resource to make his dubious enterprise work (where mighty Daimler failed) though he did seem err badly on the first day of the show by hob-nobbing too long with visiting US politicians and failing to turn up at a scheduled call for local press and TV, leaving slighted hacks spitting chips. He now has fence-mending to do.

Ford, by heavy contrast, got it exactly right. They used the hugely popular architect of their strengthening sales and fiscal recovery, Alan Mulally, to unveil the undoubted star of the show, a very pretty and very plausible third generation Focus, and then announced that both the regular (albeit very frugal) versions and a new battery-powered model would be manufactured right there in Michigan from late 2010 – because cost-cutting efficiencies and a new deal with the United Auto Workers union have made the manufacture of cheaper cars viable in the US again.

The Focus makes its appearance just as Americans are deciding that they really must embrace smaller cars for good (Ford marketeers expect a high proportion of F-series pick-ups as trade-ins) and as the price of petrol takes a climb from which there will be no return.

Detroit industry analysts (some looking down-at-heel because the industry has decided it can do without them) say Ford is benefiting greatly from positive buyer sentiment, as the only one of the American Big Three not to have taken bail-out billions from the US government. And to have a simple, plausible and already-half-delivered ‘One Ford’ plan which will bring Europe’s Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo – and their offshoots – to the US more or less unaltered. By contrast GM’s stand was as quiet as a grave, even though it contained a decent-looking Aveo RS and the GMC Granite, a very promising MPV concept based on the Chevrolet Orlando.

Europeans left in the shade

Though America seems to be warming again to European design (GM also trumpeted a new Buick Regal, which is actually a turbocharged Opel/Vauxhall Insignia) the European marques themselves were bit players at 2010 Detroit. Bentley’s Mulsanne looked impressive, but not quite as good as the standard-setting Rolls-Royce Ghost. Audi revealed a TT-sized mid-engined electric coupe, VW showed a pretty two-door Jetta and BMW has the electric 1-series, but all were out of the mainstream. There was a pretty Yaris-sized Toyota concept and a production-ready Honda CRZ hybrid (disappointing after the exuberance of the much-disoplayed concept) and Kia and Hyundai did their best.

But there was no getting away from it: Ford showed everyone the way. It won both categories of America’s Car of the Year competition (for Ford Fusion hybrid and Transit Connect) and unveiled a couple of nice-looking Mustang upgrades. But its class act was the launch of a new, state-of-the-art European C-segment hatch, along with plausible plans to make it much, much bigger across the world than ever before.

And it hardly hurt the mood when the company’s financial people let slip that in every division of its business around the world, Ford was profitable for the latest quarter. That news really gave the whole place a lift. Ford was proving that car manufacture could be viable tomorrow (a matter that has been in doubt lately) and the whole industry – to a greater or lesser extent – enjoyed their success.

Latest news from the show floorAutocar’s bloggers give their reaction to the show


Detroit motor show 2010

Detroit motor show: Hot BMW Z4, Detroit motor show: BMW electric 1-series, Detroit motor show: Buick Regal GS, Detroit motor show: Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, Detroit motor show: Cadillac's new flagship saloon, Detroit motor show: Chevrolet Aveo RS, Detroit motor show: Chrysler 300C, Detroit motor show: electric Fiat 500, New Ford Focus revealed, Detroit motor show: Ford Mustang V8, Detroit motor show: Hyundai Blue-Will, Detroit motor show: Jeep specials, Detroit motor show: Merc E-class cabrio, Detroit motor show: Mini Beachcomber, Detroit motor show: Toyota hybrid concept, Detroit motor show: VW Jetta coupe hybrid concept, Detroit motor show: electric Volvo C30.

Join the debate

Comments
8

11 January 2010

Please Autocar, as one of the relaible sources of news, someone there ask GM -

some penetrating questions.

Here's the summary:

  • GM have five bids on the table for Saab and the prime bidders are all very confident that their bids meet GM's terms, with regard to both price and conditions. In other words, a deal should be achievable.
  • Despite this, GM seem to see significant value in closing Saab down and have appointed a liquidator to begin the process.
  • GM have been reported by sources to multiple outlets, this site included, as having plans to ship remaining Saab 9-5 tooling from Germany to China, seemingly for assembly of the 9-5 in that market (the Chinese love big cars and the 9-5 is five meters long).

Not only are GM contemplating closing down a 62 year old car manufacture with a viable plan for the future and viable bidders on the table, they also appear to be contemplating moving the tooling for at least one of that manufacturer's cars to China - the new biggest car market in the world - presumably for production for the market there where big cars are the order of the day, and where GM sell 4 or 5 times as many Buicks as they do in the US.

In doing so, they'll put 218 dealers in the US out of Saab work, threatening an estimated 5,000 jobs and untold amounts of community expenditure, wages and taxes. Then there are the 900-odd other Saab dealers around the world, but let's stick with the US for the moment.

GM are planning on doing all this, including a contribution to Chinese manufacturing at the expense of US dealership jobs - and they're thinking of doing all this whilst being the beneficiaries of billions of dollars in TARP funds and whilst they're 60% owned by the US government.

Isn't there a story there to be exposed???

11 January 2010

What is this "latest hi-res show pics" nonsense? Seems to be one shot of the outside of the exhibition centre (center?) at 612px × 408px - are you using a cheap mobile phone camera?

11 January 2010

The show doors opened about half an hour ago - keep pressing F5 and the picture gallery will update. We're currently uploading 50+ show pictures.

As for what's hi-res, that's an argument we've had before - 612 x 408 is as big as we can offer.

As for GM questions, Hilton's there , so you can rest assured he'll do all he can to get answers.

Jim Holder

Editor, Autocar

11 January 2010

[quote Jim Holder]As for GM questions, Hilton's there , so you can rest assured he'll do all he can to get answers.[/quote]

I know he will - we really need some answers from GM, they need to explain why cash on the table, as requested by Ed Whitaker last week, is not good enough this week!

Enjoy the show guys.

11 January 2010

Jim, i know its been discussed, but i dont think any reason was given as too why you cant offer greater that 612x408. i read autocar write ups and then going to Auto Express for the pictures!!!

Also i dont see how you can still call it "high res pics", as 612 x 408 clearly is not.

11 January 2010

We're constrained by costs and technology. We're working on it, but it will take time. The pictures are hi-res enough to be hi-res, if not the highest-res on the internet, so that's the description we use on the homepage but not elsewhere now. It's not a perfect solution for the pictures, but it's significantly better than what we could offer last year.

I'm glad you like the stories, as we do our best to add exclusive content from the show. And I'll cheekily add that the pictures are also uploaded much faster than the opposition.

For now, though, can we focus attention on the Detroit show in this thread, and dig out the hi-res picture thread in Any Other Business?

Jim Holder

Editor, Autocar

12 January 2010

Chrysler Delta?! The Alfa Romeo Arna is back!!!!!!!

The GMC Granite looks good, but as a Saab fan I'm trying not to have any interest in GM products or show any support...

16 January 2010

The Delta was a joke, its Ghastly.

The Focus wasnt bold enough on the Grille Front.

The Granite is sweet

Fusion beating Buick for NACOTY, was stupid.

KIA and Ford Infotainment systems were interestng

Overall the Detroit show was pretty boring for Detroit Show standards.

There should have been at least 10 Debuts, instead they gave us this Piss Poor show full of new concepts, also ran concepts, and like 2 major Debuts. What a snore.

This was supposed to be a breakout show for the "New Detroit" (not just cars, but the city as well) and it was a fail, Im pissed.

This show would have been more Appropriate for some 2nd tier city like Cincinnati or something

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