Blog: City of Detroit cites auto fightback
Simon Warburton | 14 January 2013
In Michigan for the latest installment of the Auto Show, with the downtown Cobo Center apparently benefiting from a US$300m makeover, so it'll be interesting to see how they've spruced up the cavernous building.
The mayor of Detroit has been making some interesting comments on how his city - plagued by net emigration during the past few years that has seen the population shrink alarmingly by 25% in just a decade - can use the car biz as a template for rejuvenating Motown's fortunes and bounce back from seemingly insurmountable odds.
To back that up - in stark contrast to European travails - the US automakers and the motor state that is home to so many suppliers -are posting some seriously good numbers that can only benefit the metropolis of Detroit.
Confidence is everywhere - so much so that vehicle ads around American football in Troy where I am writing this - come taglined 'Imported from Detroit' - a phrase few would have thought possible to be associated as a badge of honour just a few years ago.
Getting here came replete with an interesting airborne experience mind. Just east of Newfoundland we flew straight into some of the heaviest turbulence I have ever experienced and were being thrown about like a cork in water.
Not to be outdone by that - and a bit of a breezy 110mph headwind - the Delta Boeing 767 crew pushed the throttles forward in a fairly hefty right bank and we powered up 6,000ft in rapid order - something I know as my eyes were fixed resolutely on the seat-back moving map display.
I picked up my car at Detroit airport - a vehicle so large I practically needed a ladder to get into it - and drove to the northern suburb of Troy - motto - 'The City of Tomorrow - Today' where just-auto generally stays when in town [not when in RenCen on Chevrolet's dime - ed] and in some of the balmiest temperatures I have experienced at this time of year - around 60F.
Just like the Cobo, I also needed a bit of a wash and brush up so went for an American haircut - "Can I have it square at the back please? You betcha" -in nearby Birmingham. US hairdressers - apparently this is common - have you sitting facing outwards not inwards - with the unnerving sensation of the assembled patrons all looking at you as the clippers and scissors are wielded.
The show starts tomorrow - 50% chance of snow said the forecast - with a-crack-of-sparrows press conference with Johnson Controls and I've been invited by the powerful UAW union to a briefing on Nissan in Mississippi just across the road from the Cobo. Intriguing.
I've got a succession of press conferences and interviews tomorrow and Tuesday morning, before the Automotive News World Congress later this week and some supplier visits afterwards.
I managed to catch the Premier League game between Arsenal and Man City this morning at a favourite just-auto haunt, Bailey's, across the road and it's fair to say I was in a minority of one as the other patrons remained firmly fixed on the NFL play-offs.
Bailey's - 'The Year of Beer' - has a mightily impressive array of 36 brews - many of them the craft variety that America has embraced so enthusiastically - although I stopped short of embracing some of the 9% and 10% abv varieties.
Sadly, returned vets don't always get the help they need, returning to civvy life with physical and mental scars yet to heal fully....
The hype over Tesla's so-called 'Gigafactory' is reaching new levels with the release of drone footage showing its sheer size....
LMC Automotive has a forecasting event with a very strong European focus coming up....
- ANALYSIS - Jaguar takes on Porsche with F-PACE
- THE WEEK THAT WAS - platforms to go to
- Peugeot steps up a gear with new 3008
- Delphi Powertrain VP on compliance - Q&A
- Geely/Volvo architecture cooperation bears fruit
- Peugeot reveals revamped 3008 compact SUV
- Tesla chooses Mando for autonomous technology
- US and UK motorists divided on driverless cars
- GKN wins plug-in AWD axle deal
- Ford recalls 271,000 F-150s for brake job