MBS attendees likely were surprised to see fullsize vehicles inside the hotel this year, instead of the parking lot.

In addition to the minivan display on the conference floor, a Ford Edge and Explorer and Dodge Dart were brought indoors for various design and technology presentations in one of the Governors’ halls.

“This is our opportunity to avoid death by PowerPoint for a couple of minutes,” quips CAR co-director Brett Smith, who is met with a round of applause.

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

A presentation by two Microsoft execs is held up due to a malfunctioning Xbox, a video-game system produced by…Microsoft.

A scrambling CAR director asks a WardsAuto editor: “Do you know anything about Xboxes?” When the journo answers, “No,” the director shoots back: “Neither do the Microsoft guys.”

Don’t Rain on My Parade

Professional speakers such as politicians can be tough acts to follow, especially for engineers, who are not known for being the most engaging folks to step in front of a podium.

Carla Bailo, senior vice president-research and development, Nissan Americas, vents her frustration at having to follow the southern charm of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

“I’m an engineer, and having an engineer follow a politician is like ‘Rain Man’ following Jay Leno.”

Power of iPod

Young car buyers aren’t looking for vehicle features that appeal to their elders, says Jay Baron, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research, citing a personal experience.

“I went car shopping with my daughter, and she didn’t care about horsepower,” he says. “She cared about where her iPod plugs in.”

What’s Not Job one for Michigan

Rick Snyder tells the conference his role as Michigan’s governor is not to create jobs, but instead to foster an environment for the private sector to do that.

“God forbid if everyone who lived in Michigan worked for the State of Michigan,” he says.

Red Suits, Anyone?

A string of conference speakers with the same shade of hair prompts a comment from one of them, Sean McAlinden, chief economist of the Center for Automotive Research.

“Wow, five white-haired guys in a row. You’d think it was a Santa Claus convention.”