The North American International Auto Show happens each January in downtown Detroit. Depending on the weather, it can be a real nightmare getting up there to look at the newest concepts and models the automakers have to offer. This year, we have been stuck in this frozen arctic blast so the weather wasn't great, but it wasn't awful either. Detroit has a nice public transportation system which keeps you fairly warm during your travels downtown to the Cobo Center.
In the past ten years, the NAIAS has seen a number of changes. My first trip left me with an entire suitcase full of handouts and freebies. A few years back, the show almost didn't happen. There was even a year I remember where the show was so bland and boring that the Cleveland Auto Show was equal in excitement. Heading up this year though, I expected to see a good showing. The models released were some of the most anticipated and most powerful ever. Sales of many automakers have been way up the past year, which would result in a great show floor. We decided to visit during the first public day. This proved to be a pretty big mistake because the show was as busy as I have ever seen. Most of the photos I planned to take didn't happen and the ones I did grab show you just how busy everything was. At certain times, we couldn't even see a car because the crowds were five people deep.
Surprisingly, the most crowded manufacturer was Chevrolet. The new Corvette Z06 was almost impossible to get near and I actually had to wait in line to sit inside a new Sonic of all things. One of the most exciting "normal" cars we saw in the GM display was the new Colorado. It looked very clean and gives you hope that the small truck market is coming back. For some reason, I miss seeing the Rangers, S10s, and Dakota's driving around town. GMC also had their version on display as well. The Canyon looked like a miniature version of the Sierra we tested a month back.
Another crazy busy booth was Tesla. If you don't know who Tesla is, google them right now. They are a smallish California based company which makes only electric cars. They had their Model S which we couldn't even see upon walking up to it. Also on display was their chassis setup which houses the drivetrain and batteries. I am kind of surprised they have such a small space, but they were handing out tote bags to anybody who wanted one.
Finally, let's discuss the negatives. The automaker that had the slowest and easiest display to walk around was Kia. We could sit in pretty much any vehicle we wanted with no wait and also didn't feel claustrophobic. This was a big change from a few years back when the hamsters were all over and it was a big dance party. Scion was busy due to the FR-S, but they had what I feel is the worst car I've ever sat in. To put this into perspective, this means current and new vehicles. Obviously the 1977 Pontiac I rode in ten years ago was built much worse, but by today's standards this vehicle takes top honors. I am talking about the Scion iQ. The iQ is a super small mini car that has four seats and no trunk. It does have a hatch to open, but that only fits a piece of paper as cargo. The front end is a horrible squared shape, the interior is super ugly and is built worse than an early 90s Chevy. From our perspective, it was cheap and looked awful, end of story.
The North American International Auto Show was very impressive for 2014. If you go by the crowds, this should be a very good year for the automakers. Tons of new technology was showcased and the public seems to be in the market for infotainment, electric/hybrid, great design, and new models. All of these ideas were shown by many of the car makers. From what we can gather, it looks like they are listening to the public and giving them what they want. If the different manufacturers can continue doing this, we feel that cars in general over the next five years will be more exciting than ever.