Blog: Graeme RobertsDETROIT SHOW: The excitement builds

Graeme Roberts | 8 January 2012

Border patrol: Look this way and it

Border patrol: Look this way and it's downtown Detroit

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Deputy editor Graeme Roberts is in Detroit for the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and just a wee bit enthusiastic about his first trip to Motown. Blogging begins here.

A period of firsts for me. First time on Delta (only direct London-Detroit flight so a no-brainer for mine hosts Chevrolet UK and several other automakers hosting groups of journalists). Great cabin crew and some entertaining conversation with passengers from the US and UK, plus a couple of movies, helped eight hours in the air pass quickly.

First time in Detroit. It didn't take long on a Google Earth preview to see the derelict areas where once-thriving neighbourhoods are now sparse blocks of mostly empty land punctuated by the odd burnt-out home, and there's acres of concrete foundations and weed-strewn parking lots on which factories and workers' cars once stood. Some of that was visible as we flew in on a clear sunny day, no snow and temperatures in the early 40sF, not normal for the motor city this time of year.

But the freeway from airport to Renaissance Center hotel was neat and tidy, with overbridges painted bright blue (instead of the grey, mouldy concrete we get in the UK) and a big tract of new housing was going up alongside the road as we neared downtown. We came in in a Cadillac Escalade - I'm sure people live in flats in England smaller than such vehicles - and our driver agreed that some parts of Detroit really were bad, and no-go for visitors, but that there are many encouraging renaissance projects under way.

And there's been good auto jobs news recently in both city and state - such as this from Chrysler last week.

Certainly, the view from the 27th floor of RenCen is attractive enough - Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario, one way out the window and downtown's high rises t'other. The internet is now working so this'll do nicely, along with the show floor tomorrow, as just-auto's new, temporary US editorial office.

Inevitably you get the odd glitch with arrangements - my show accreditation wasn't ready though the rest of the party had theirs' waiting - but I've always found Americans have an encouraging 'no problem' approach - it'll be ready for me over at the Cobo Center at 6am tomorrow. And getting to it and into the show should not be as challenging as Chris Wright experienced last week in New Delhi - the globetrotter is now over here, too.

As is my j-a colleague Simon Warburton who will also be reporting from the show on Monday and from the Automotive News Congress from Tuesday. And, in a surprising coincidence, our Man in Brazil, Fernando Calmon, is in the room next door, writing a story for j-a.

Tonight, while he heads for a Mercedes event and some UK journos and PRs head for downtime refreshments in Greektown, we four Chevrolet UK guests - and many others from NAFTA and other countries - are off to the Cadillac media do to see, I hope, the covers come off the new ATS with powerful I4 turbo engine.

Looking forward to that.


Detroit 2012

Detroit 2012


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