Blog: Chris WrightThe Detroit blog

Chris Wright | 15 January 2013

 

Tuesday 15 January

08.45 (CET) - RS

Somehow we contrived to get only four hours' sleep last night. Our wind-down session at C J Mahoney's turned into a debate about the motor industry, and the future of motoring journalism, and suddenly it was 1.30am. By the time faces had been washed and teeth brushed it was almost two. Four hours later the nagging presence of the alarm told us it was time to rise and shine.

My first port of call is the Ford press conference at the Joe Louis Arena. It feels strange to be going to Ford on day two. The company usually bags pole position at the start of the first day. Given its Machiavellian skills at news management, I can't imagine Ford has ended up featuring on day two by accident. Ford is the only company to insist on searching your laptop bag before allowing you in. Some might call it paranoia.

The whole event is far too slick and insincere. Executive chairman Bill Ford, CEO Alan Mulally and chief operating officer Mark Fields come across as bunko booth salesmen in the old Wild West. I leave feeling as if I've just been sold a bottle of snake oil at a fraction of the normal price. Like five thirds.

06.00 (EST) - CJ

Apologies for my lack of bloggage but yesterday turned out to be rather busy. Having left the hotel at 7am, I actually didn't see my room again for 18 hours.

Very entertaining dinner last night with BMW where I enjoyed the company of not one but two board members - sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson and MINI and Rolls Royce head honcho Harald Kruger. None of the other journos seemed interested in talking to them - perhaps they were cream crackered after a long day at the show.

Talking of which, eventually caught up with the rest of the team fairly late on to discuss tactics. It's another busy day ahead, kicking off with Carlos Ghosn then Sergio Marchionne.  A nice way to ease yourself into the day...

 

Monday 14 January

19.15 (EST) - RS

We've just filled up the car. Seventeen (US) gallons for US$60, or slightly less than GBP40. Makes you want to weep thinking about the fuel prices back home.

18.45 (EST) - RS

Eleven hours after arriving at Cobo three of us are back in the car returning to our billet. Wright has gone to dinner with BMW. None of us has eaten more than a packet of pretzels all day - and drunk several gallons of coffee.

You do see some sights at American shows. One journalist even had a 'Press' ticket stuck in the rim of his hat, like an extra from an old black and white B-movie.

The manufacturers go to great lengths to attract attention, too. Mercedes had Bruce Hornsby performing 'The Way It Is' at its unveiling. Audi had conjured up a magician. And some very well-endowed female dancers.

We're now debating where to eat tonight. No-one feels energetic enough to move far from where we are staying, just off Big Beaver Road. I am reliably informed by Mr O'Kelly that it is also known as 16-mile Road, because that's how far it is from Downtown Detroit, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway.

We're sticking with Big Beaver Highway because it suits our schoolboy sense of humour and that's what the street signs say. And it did used to be the home of the American edition of Penthouse magazine.

09.30 (EST) - CJ

Little wrapped mints and hand sanitiser dispenses by young ladies at the entry to the show. No explosives sniffer dogs this year though. Now my hands have been sanitised they are too slippery to remove the mint wrapper...

09.00 (EST) - CJ

They have been doing some work at the Cobo exhibition hall with a bright new atrium and a new position for the media centre, much closer to the show floor. No more having to take several electric shock-giving escalators to the top of the building. Show mood is pretty buoyant and it would appear that all the manufacturers who have been missing in recent years have returned. Just bumped into British designer Peter Horbury who is now working with the Chinese at Geely. Have arranged to sit down with him later so more to follow on that. Just been speaking to the people at Chevrolet and taking a look at the new Corvette Stingray. Looks like they are going to make this in right hand drive form in around 2015.

06.15 (EST)

The fan's broken .......

06.00 (EST)

Getting suited and booted ready for day 1 at the show. Our room has a ceiling fan which makes a very annoying ticking noise which I can hear from my open plan upstairs room. There appears to be no way of turning it off and we have hit pretty well every switch in the place. Mind you I have worked out that if I step across from my room onto the fan and slide down it onto the sofa below it's quicker than using the stairs.

Sunday 13 January

Midnight

Busy night last night as we raided the JLR, Mercedes and VW events. Then a cab ride back out to Troy and a quick couple of pints in CJ Mahoney's. CJ Mahoney? What kind of idiot is called CJ? Anyway, Roger and I realised our schoolboy error, we still needed to write stuff so we were up until midnight on the laptops. Suddenly tomorrow doesn't seem that far away.

12.00 (EST)

The Fellowship of the Ring is formed. The team has come together from all corners of the globe, well me, Roger, AOK and Ant. We are now esconced in our hotel - two to a room (there are separate bedrooms thankfully). There's even a little kitchen. Just like being at uni. Be prepared for some men behaving badly anecdotes.

Actually, AOK and Ant are not really being men, they've gone shopping leaving Roger and I working. This evening I am going along to see JLR then Merc while Roger is off to VW. Tony Lewis in the meantime his packing is bag ready to head over the Atlantic ...... to St Lucia.

Saturday 12 January

10.30 (GMT) - CJ

The Detroit roadshow gets ...... er, on the road. Now checked in at Heathrow ready for the annual visit to the frozen wastes. We are a bit spread out, I'm heading in via Chicago on BA, Roger Stansfield is already out there having spent the past few days at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (he tells me he hates the place ..... really?) AOK and snapper Anthony Holdgate going direct in today on Delta.

However, there is method in my madness by taking a roundabout route - we are buying our own tickets so it's back of the bus for us but thanks to the BA exec card I have been upgraded to Club - result.

Enjoy your trip, chaps.

 


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