Auto show a $402M boost for Detroit

By Claudette de la Haye

The North American International Auto Show has an economic impact of US$402 million in Detroit with over UD$5 million raised for charity – the largest fundraiser in the world.

This event is equivalent to the city having its own SuperBowl.

Activities started swiftly with awards for Car and Truck of the Year handed out on Jan. 12. The surprise winner for Car of the Year was Volkswagen’s Golf. Truck of the Year went to the Ford F-150.

The international press core was treated to several big reveals including GM’s Buick 2016 Cascada convertible, a handsome 2+2 that marks GM’s first droptop in over 25 years. Its 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder churns out 200 horsepower and the convertible roof takes 17 seconds to come down.

The Cascada is capable of a range of 200 miles, combined, with a charge and a once-a-month visit to the gas station.

The Avenir is a concept car with no real specs as yet but we do know it will come equipped with technology that includes built-in rear-screen TVs with 4G LTE connectivity powering a wireless hot spot. The largish gauge cluster and eight-inch color touch screen infotainment system house the next-gen Buick Intellilink infotainment.

Ford Motor’s power play of vehicles displayed were, respectively, Ford F-150 Raptor which gets an EcoBoost V6, new chassis and aluminum body.

The next off-road-ready pickup from Ford will boast an all-new, purpose-built, high-strength steel frame and a lightweight aluminum body that saves more than 500 pounds when compared to the current Raptor. It’s six inches wider overall than the regular 2015 F-150.

Specs on the Raptor 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine suggest it will make more than the current 6.2-liter V8’s 411 horsepower and 434 foot-pounds of torque. Despite not having exact power figures for the next-gen Raptor we know there will be a 10-speed automatic transmission, which will replace the current six-speed.

Also shown were the Ford Mustang GT350R with a new body style and an EcoBoost flat-pane V8 engine while retaining its 5.2 liter capacity. The GT packs a 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 nestled in the middle of its wheelbase and driving “more than 600 horsepower” to the rear wheels.

The Tesla Model S P85D has 691 horsepower spinning all four wheels (470 hp of that just in the rear). This sport sedan can hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds in the fantastically named “Insane” driving mode and reach a top speed of 155 mph. These are the only specifics for this vehicle at the moment but there will be more information forthcoming.

Chevrolet introduced the Bolt EV Concept five-seater, a 200-mile EV. It only requires a perspective stop at the gas station on a paltry once a-month basis. The entry price is around $30,000. This crossover made its global debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

This year’s headliners at Auto News World Congress came out in unprecedented style – first timers like Mary Barra of General Motors, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and of course the incomparable Sergio Marchionne who excelled over his five-year plan by securing 1.5% in sales and merging Fiat and Chrysler after accomplishing over two million units in sales. Marcionne was named Autoline’s CEO of the year.

Expect to see the unexpected at the show: futuristic driverless cars, vehicles that park by themselves, and sports cars with a driving mode marked “INSANE”.

So, despite the temperature ranging down to -20F, it’s worth visiting the flagship of all auto show flagships, the North American International Auto Show. Admission is $13.