Welcome to Autocar's complete coverage from the 2019 Detroit motor show. Officially known as the North American International Auto Show, Detroit has long marked the start of the automotive year.
Detroit, like several other major motor shows, has lost some of its lustre in recent years, with a number of car firms choosing to display at other events such as CES. Most of the big European companies, and a number of US marques, are staying away in 2019, but while the number of cars being launched might be down, they still included some significant and interesting new metal.
Here’s everything from Detroit, as it happened.
Full show report
A motor show is a snapshot of a moment in time, reflecting the state of the car industry in which it takes place. And what this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit captured was a state of transition – of an industry, a city and, indeed, the show itself.
This was the final time the event is being held in the chill of a Detroit January before it switches in 2020 to a summer date, allowing for the addition of a large outdoor area, complete with moving exhibits and more passenger rides. Much as Detroit itself is battling back from some tough times, so the motor show is aiming to rebuild.
That move was largely prompted by the decline in relative importance of the show in recent years, with a steep dip in the number of car firms attending and launching new models. This year’s show felt like a bridge to that refreshed 2020 event, reflected in a further dip in the number of car launches.
It didn’t help that the run-up to the show was dominated by talk of the state of the industry itself, from GM and Ford announcing restructuring plans – complete with significant job losses – to new development in Volkswagen and Ford’s new commercial partnership. It was almost easy to forget that there were still new cars to be wheeled out at the show.
But once the show started, the new cars certainly came, and what they lacked in number they made up for with sheer variety.
From an international perspective, nothing was bigger than the new Toyota GR Supra, the revival of a storied sports car after a break of 17 years. In a way, the Supra reflected the new reality of the industry: it’s a Toyota that was co-developed by BMW alongside the recently launched Z4.
Ford also revived a classic performance car nameplate, with a new version of the Shelby Mustang GT500. While that was a machine for the enthusiasts the firm also had the new Explorer SUV, a key model for the US market – and a machine that, under the firm’s new plan, could conceivably return to Europe in the future.
Lexus and Infiniti, the premium brands of Toyota and Nissan respectively, both celebrated their 30th anniversary in Detroit. Lexus did so with the track-focused RC F Track Edition and a new LC Convertible. The latter is officially a concept, but it was well-finished and is such a natural accompaniment to the LC coupe that it’s hard to imagine it won’t reach production.