Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

Say What?

Johan deNyssschen, Audi of America’s executive vice president, is in a lighthearted mood but sticks to the script during a presentation in conjunction with the auto show.

“I’m German, so I’ll read my script, otherwise I’ll ramble for 30 minutes,” he tells a crowd at the Audi Forum, a Park Ave. showroom.

Praising Audi’s TDI powertrains, he says the initials stand for “marvelous, beautiful, wonderful” engines.

For those without cliff notes, TDI stands for turbocharged direct injection.

50 Cent Doesn’t Mind $3 Gas

New York rapper 50 Cent was on hand to establish the street cred of three new Pontiacs unveiled at the show – the ’09 Solstice Coupe, ’09 G8 GXP and ’10 G8 sport truck.

As the owner of a Pontiac G6 GXP, the 32-year-old former drug dealer, born Curtis James Jackson III, took to the stage alongside Pontiac General Manager Jim Bunnell and product guru Bob Lutz to rave about the brand’s newest entries.

50 Cent was especially excited about the G8 sport truck, saying he looks forward to having his own, even if its 6.0L, 361-hp V-8 tends to guzzle fuel.

“It’s a lot better than a lot of the options,” he says when asked if he has any concerns about fuel economy.

“How many vehicles in this show have V-8 engines? This is something we ain’t gonna escape. People want the power, along with the efficiency. It’s a compromise on some level, so you can’t get everything.”

Fit But Not Smart

While introducing its next-generation subcompact Honda Fit at the show, American Honda brass repeatedly said, “Small is smart.”

That may be. But perhaps the choice of words wasn’t so wise.

Not with the Honda display area right next to the one for Mercedes’ Smart cars.

In a New York Minute

The first press conference at the auto show here began with the now- obligatory pulsating music blaring from speakers.

“What a surprise, thumping rock music,” complains one journalist.

Throughout the day, it was more of the same, until the Hyundai Genesis Coupe unveil, which featured a live rock band.

Unfortunately, it also included fireworks in the Galleria section of the Jacob Javits convention center.

Because it’s an enclosed area, the smoke from the fireworks didn’t dissipate but instead swirled around like a London fog, much to the horror of photographers shooting the event.

It Suits You

Dick Colliver, American Honda’s executive vice president-sales, was on hand to introduce the ’09 Fit to the media Wednesday, a duty he performed when the first-generation subcompact was unveiled here in 2006.

Accordingly, a photo of Colliver at that initial introduction was flashed on jumbo video screens.

Suddenly, the veteran exec looked up at his image and exclaimed, “Am I wearing the same suit?”

How Green Was My Bentley

Stuart McCullough, Bentley board member-sales, spends considerable time at the brand’s press preview outlining to journalists a series of initiatives to build more environmentally friendly vehicles

Asked if the U.K. ultra-conservative, ultra-luxury auto maker is going green, he doesn’t miss a beat.

“Our color always has been British racing green.”


Watch Your Toes, Dude

Mazda Motor Corp. Communications General Manager Keiichi Wakabayashi was thrilled to step on stage at the auto show here today to claim the World Car of the Year Award, on behalf of the Mazda2 subcompact, which is available in Europe and Asia.

Some 47 jurors from 24 countries cast ballots in deciding the winner, and many of them crowded up on stage for a photo with Wakabayashi after his acceptance speech.

The Mazda exec graciously obliged, shifting on stage for the adoring photographers, while proudly holding the award, a gold-plated trophy with a swooping base cradling a large sphere resembling the Earth with an orbital ring surrounding it.

Problem is, that large sphere – about as heavy as a shot put – broke loose from the base and landed with a loud thud on stage. Thankfully, it didn’t strike the Mazda2, or any toes.

Time for more super glue.

– compiled by Barbara McClellan