America may be known for doing things on a grand scale and, Las Vegas aside, New York is its most larger-than-life city – but its diminutive motor show has always stood in fairly stark contrast to such themes.
I’m sure its size is not one of choice but circumstances forced upon it by its long-time second-string status next to that longtime staple of the global show circuit held in Detroit each year.
But you didn’t need to be in the Jacob K Javits Convention Center for more than a few minutes of this year’s New York motor show to feel the balance of power tilting away from Motown and toward the Big Apple.
The list of no shows at Detroit this year is too long to detail here, but almost all the ultra-luxury brands stayed away. In New York the stands may not have been big, but they hosted marques such as Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, as well as all the big German premium players and Jaguar Land Rover.
Nor was this a show where the covers came off cars only for the attendant media scrum to realise we’d not only seen them all before, but as recently as Geneva earlier in the month. Make no mistake, there were some important global launches here, with cars of a breadth of talent and importance to make Detroit seem thinner still by comparison.
Probably the most important, at least on this side of the pond, was the new Toyota RAV4. Such has been the popularity of both the car and the sector it invented 24 years ago that right now the RAV4 is America’s best-selling car (aside from pickup trucks); but did Toyota choose to show its replacement in Motor City? It did not, it came instead to Midtown Manhattan for its most important product launch of the year.