Blog: Simon WarburtonMad Dog, Raw Dog on your dial

Simon Warburton | 17 January 2013

Detroit lies nearly 500 miles west of New York at the gateway to the Midwest, so GMT minus five means it doesn't really get properly light here until around 08:30.

The upshot of that darkness is an hour or so extra of watery light than I'm used to back in Blighty at the end of the working day, although the plunging Detroit mercury means you really don't want to be hanging about outside too much.

Driving into Detroit today was a stop-start affair as traffic concertinered - have I made that word up? - almost the whole way while I managed to weasel into the multi-storey by the RenCen through sheer luck as two spots suddenly became available despite a 'full' sign.

Right next to the RenCen is the turning to the Canada bridge - Detroit is to the north of Canada - and I narrowly avoided driving down it - as I wasn't carrying my passport it would have made for an interesting chat with immigration.

The Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association (APMA) president, Steve Rodgers, told me there had been quite a fight for a second bridge from Detroit to Windsor, with the issue cropping up as a spoof item on Jon Stewart's Daily Show last week, even though it appears Canada is footing most of the bill.

It's the second day of Automotive News' World Congress and I took the chance to stop by the City of Sunderland's stand - motto: 'Make it Sunderland' - whose roaring success with Nissan and around 20 suppliers based in the area is a template for the current healthy state of the UK auto industry.

Contrast that with the stark news coming out of Nissan's Alliance partner, Renault, that around 7,500 jobs may need to be culled at home as France lurches into a desperate round of rationalisation to drive competivity and it illustrates the UK's relative robustness. 

I tried to find those City of Sunderland folks this evening - the three of them supporters of the town's football club - to share the good news that - against all odds - my team Southampton had come back from two nil down to draw with Chelsea - the Champions of Europe. As the BBC text slowly refreshed, I nearly leapt out of my seat in the media room when we equalised.

The RenCen is taking a more relaxed view to the flu epidemic currently sweeping America. Not a gel in sight, in stark contrast to the Cobo that had people primed with hand sanitisers at the entrance, while even the media centre had several hygienic vials on display although frankly with around 1,000 journos in the room at any one time, it would have taken heroic quantities of gel, alcohol-based or not, to disinfect the masses.

I retrieved the Expedition - a slightly tense experience standing late at night on the top floor of a downtown Detroit multi-storey - and drove back to Troy past giant US flag after flag - this country does patriotism in bucketfuls.

The 20-mile or so journey is always enlivened by flicking through US radio stations. A few always seem to crop up - namely basketball - just a blur of words - country and western - not my cup of tea - and 'Doctor.'

My favourite was probably 'Blue Collar' - a station not for the faint-hearted - while a flick on the seek button saw 'Raw Dog' and 'Mad Dog' - constantly reappear - both of which I have no idea what they're talking about.


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