Blog: Simon WarburtonCold no problem for hardy Detroit

Simon Warburton | 11 January 2014

It'll take more than a Polar Vortex to affect next week's North American International Auto Show, but I bet the organisers in Detroit are breathing a whole lot easier now that -23C temperatures and driving snow have largely disappeared.

I'm in Motor City for the show, which takes place in its traditional Cobo venue, but also for a raft of bolt-on events that occur around it, such as the Society of Automotive Analysts conference tomorrow (12 January), the Automotive News World Congress and some supplier visits.

The mercury soared to around freezing last night, so I took the opportunity to venture to the Greektown area of Detroit. I've seen it before from a train rattling overhead into the Cobo Centre, but never actually set foot in it.

That Greek element is certainly everywhere from piped music blaring out into the - incredibly brightly lit - streets - restuarants such as 'Santorini' and the reassuring presence of police although so much snow made it feel a long way from the Med.

This is a safe area to walk around, my cabbie assured me and it had a good vibe filled with weekenders anxious to come out after being snowbound in the harsh weather of a week ago. There was even a brave saxophonist playing outside in the bone chilling cold.

I'm billeted downtown this time and as I write this, the sound of wailing sirens fills the air outside my room. This is a city still beset with challenges, but as someone confidently told me last night, it appears the centre is starting to attract some people at least back to its area to live.

The auto show, along with Detroit's many sporting events provides a real fillip to hotels and restaurants here, not to mention the airlines, taxis and myriad associated businesses and is a genuine highlight in the town's calendar.

I even managed to catch my football team - Southampton's - 1-0 edgy win today - on the wireless or more accurately a radio app on my phone.

Echoing that impressive advance in communications and just after CES in Las Vegas last week, the increasing presence of technology in cars looks to be a theme of next week, along with continued economic recovery in North America. 

There's an Orwellian-looking building right opposite me with the title 'Secretary of State' emblazoned across it and I'm going to have to ask someone what it is. Every time I come here, there's something new to see, just as in the auto show next week.


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