Blog: Graeme RobertsDetroit Day Two - all done

Graeme Roberts | 11 January 2012


Tuesday's launches included Honda's 2013 Accord coupe 'concept' - doesn't look much different from the previous generation

Press day two of the Detroit motor show seemed almost as crowded as the first with a number of reveals - including Buick's new luxury compact Encore SUV, Toyota's Prius plug-in, Prius C and NS4 plug-in hybrid concept - and there were still TV crews filming at Toyota and other stands late in the afternoon when I finally, shoe leather wearing thin, called it a day.

Had lunch with analysts Michelle Krebs and Jessica Caldwell - Jessica reckons on a 2012 light vehicle tally for the US of around 13.7m units, vs 12.7m in 2011. Even 14m may not be out of the question.

Having admired yesterday the huge 6-litres-plus V8 diesel engines available in the full-size pickup trucks from Ford, Chrysler and GM, I asked Chevrolet marketing head Chris Perry today what the take-up rate was for his Silverado line. The answer is 40% of the heavy-duty versions, the real working trucks tradesmen over here buy. Much higher than I expected.

Spotted a 'surprise and delight' feature on Cadillac SUVs with electric tailgates yesterday. When you push the button to open the gate, the hazard lights at the back flash three times and then it begins to open. New Federal regulation? No, just a feature they thought worth including. Spotted the same on a Toyota today. As well as flashing the hazards, the Toyota also sounds a discreet toot of the horn before the tailgate starts to rise.

As a family man, trying to stuff two little kids and all their gear into a saloon, I'd really like any one of the big US minivans, Chrysler's Town and Country, Toyota's Sienna or Honda's Odyssey. Edmunds in its regular comparison tests usually ends up recommending one or other of the Japanese models depending on which is where in its model life cycle.

Top-trim versions were all at the show - electric remote control rear side sliding doors, electric liftgate, dual- or split-screen rear DVD screens, satellite radio, separate front and rear climate control, electric folding rear seats, heated and cooled front seats, bottle holders and storage cubbies galore. And separate centre rear seats far enough apart to prevent fisticuffs between siblings on long journeys - my kids would love one of these. I'm well aware we have similar 'MPVs' in Europe, smaller and more practical on our narrower roads and parking spaces and more fuel-efficient. But grumbly old diesel I4s and jerky automated manual transmission (Peugeot and Citroen)? If the auto option is offered at all (Mazda 5). If like me you want automatic, the choice of engines is limited. And none bar the Mazda have rear sliders - they apparently add a lot of weight that affects fuel economy.

If I lived here in the US, it'd be one of the American models with a creamy-smooth V6 and a proper six-speed auto. Or maybe the Mazda which is sold in the US with a meaty 2.5-litre I4 and auto option but only six seats rather than the seven we get.

I'm all but done here now. Tomorrow (Wednesday), I'm going to see the nerve centre of OnStar, GM's in-car concierge and rescue service. To see such things as how an adviser in Detroit can remotely unlock a car in Los Angeles after the owner has shut his keys in. Should be interesting.


Detroit 2012

Detroit 2012


Colossal China powers on

I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....

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