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.
We're digesting the news that TRW will be (subject to the usual approvals) acquired by ZF. Looks like ZF has paid top dollar....
Here we are again. September 11. On that day in 2001, I was in Frankfurt at the auto show....
- THE WEEK THAT WAS: Big fish eaten by bigger fish
- COMMENT: The UK's Scotland and EU parallels
- ANALYSIS: ZF puts in place a growth strategy
- INTERVIEW: Paul Philpott, Kia UK President and CEO
- VEHICLE ANALYSIS: MY2014 Peugeot 2008 1.2 VTi 82
- PARIS DEBUTS: Citroën C1 Urban Ride concept
- Lotus to restructure and up to 325 jobs could go
- And now (drum roll), the Nissan Leaf truck...
- Jaguar launches India assembled XJ
- Ford 'surveillance mode' tech made available