WardsAuto writers pass along the buzz at this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
New Chevrolet Corvette introduced at Detroit show.
Press kits aren’t much to scream about in these days of digital flash drives, but that hasn’t stopped some greedy journalists looking to cash in.
Less than 24 hours after Chevrolet unleashes its 7th-generation Corvette, press kits start popping up on the online auction site eBay, with bids ranging from $200-$1,000.
A cursory search also shows the brand itself is selling limited-edition, autographed Corvette press kits for $1,400. Proceeds from those sales go to the American Cancer Society.
It’s not easy being responsible for an icon, notesproduct-development chief Ulrich Hackenberg.
“Developing a new Golf for Europe is a most dangerous job,” he tells reporters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show.
The Golf is a top seller in Europe and has been a mainstay for VW for decades. The auto maker is just now launching a new-generation model, which will arrive in the U.S. later this year.
The new model appears to have been well-received so far, VW officials say. That’s good news for Hackenberg.
“If you make the best car, that’s normal,” he says of management’s expectations. “If it’s not the best, you get fired. “A lot of previous heads of engineering got into trouble with the Golf.”
A Room of One’s Own
Thanks to the much-needed renovation of Detroit's Cobo Center this year, there are lots of changes to the North American International Auto Show, including the spectacular multi-storied glass atrium finally giving visitors a view of the Detroit River.
Most importantly, the media now is ensconced in a spiffy new subterranean space. No view of the waterfront in this ultra-large room in the basement of the Michigan Hall, but it is bright and clean, with plenty of room to spread out. Much better than the cramped upstairs conference rooms that journos have occupied for years.
There's also better food, with Asian noodle bowls in fancy takeout boxes to go along with the more standard box lunch of a cold sandwich and macaroni salad.
With all these changes, it's understandable some folks are confused. Still, one female scribe did a double-take when walking into the ladies’ room and finding a man washing his hands. After checking the sign on the door, she was in the right spot.
Oddly enough, that was not her first unusual bathroom encounter at Cobo. Years ago, she walked into the ladies room to discover the Michelin Man. Fortunately, the dude turned out to be a woman, which became evident after she freed herself from the marshmallow costume.
Ram and Glam
Ram brand staff at the auto show here found themselves with one of the best problems any auto maker could have: Where to put all the awards.
After winning North American Truck of the Year honors, staffers were overheard debating whether to bring out other honors bestowed on the 1500 pickup to display to the public during the show this week.
The problem was exactly where to display each honor on each truck and whether to try to borrow a trophy case from Jeep, already stacked with Grand Cherokee accolades.
Free Trade Distancing
The German auto industry and German Chancellor Andrea Merkel would like to see a free trade agreement between the European Union and the U.S. that would include recognition of each others' homologation rules for new cars.
However, two top executives at the auto show are fairly neutral over the idea and don't appear to be ready to lobby the U.S. government.
"Everything would depend upon the details,"Chairman Bill Ford Jr. says after the introduction of the Ford Atlas pickup concept.
SaysCEO Carlos Ghosn: "As long as Renault is not in the U.S. market, the effect would be very limited, and Nissan does not have much exchange between the two (countries). It would facilitate the work for some competitors."