In a pivotal year for the car industry the Detroit Auto Show is more important than ever. Below we prview the announcements, trends and reveals we expect in the next three days.
This Detroit Auto Show is the chance for automakers to prove themselves to their investors, the public and, in the case of the Domestic automakers, Congress they're here to stay. How do they do this?
All automakers will show relevant product and make a case for why people will want to buy them so we'll write about how big of success they'll be. This year the automakers will have the further challenge of convincing everyone they're on to the next big thing in green technology, which means market-bound hybrids like the Honda Insight and crap made up by Chrysler.
The not-so-Big Three have the added challenge of convincing everyone they're not dead, yet. For Ford this means showing off blowing their load on a huge rollout of new product for their brands. General Motors will be showing market-bound cars we've already seen plus at least one semi-reasonable green car. Chrysler will almost surely paint an incredible picture of futuristic vehicles as well as new features for their tired product.
The biggest news? Don't be surprised if the Chinese steal the news cycle on Monday when both Brilliance and BYD hit the floor, and not because of their incredible swag. The contrast between everyone's space-age hybrids, like the Volt, and the reality of BYD's superior production F3DM is likely to be a popular story line.
With some carmakers and brands rightly fearful this will be their last North American International Auto Show, we expect magic — or as much magic as a severely-slashed production budget can provide.
As of now, we're not sure Acura is going to do more than park their series of buck-toothed attainable luxurymobiles on the carpet.
The Audi A7 Concept, which was revealed early as the Audi Sportback, will be the big news for Audi, we expect. This coupe-shaped four-door will join similar concepts and offerings from just about every other luxury automaker, but with a gigantic grille. We'd forgive you for caring more about the Audi RS5, which we hope will show up on the floor.
Attempting to hit the small market for the massively wealthy, Bentley can happily eschew any notions of economy and show the big, badass Continental GTC Speed. With a top speed of 200 mph, soft top and a price tag equivalent to a fleet of Prii, it's the kind of excess we fear will be in short supply this year.
Because it's a city of wealthy people who love top-down driving, Detroit will be the perfect place for the Germans to debut the 2010 BMW Z4. It's got a hard-top. It's not girly looking and it paints like a Deluxe Spirograph.
The Chinese automakers are moving upstairs, but we have a feeling the brilliant shine of Brilliance will be outshone by their brethren at BYD. We expect to see the BS2, BC3 and a few other numerically exuberant Chinese cars we're unlikely to see in the US market anytime soon.
The 2010 Buick LaCrosse looks to bring some more excitement to a brand more commonly characterized by epsom salts and blood pressure medication. Will the new LaCrosse be good enough to break back into the near-luxury segment?
Their tagline is "Build Your Dreams" but the message from chinese-based and Warren Buffet-owned carmaker BYD is their BYD F3DM plug-in hybrid is reality. The F3DM promises to offer Volt-besting performance at a price of just $22,000 in the US market for the 2010 model year. As opposed to last year's press conference, which was treated as an afterthought by many members of the motoring press, this year's conference will likely be well-produced and well-attended. We'll still push for another road.
In addition to re-showing the numerous CTS variations, including some face time with the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, we expect to see the 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover. And what would a Detroit Auto Show be without some sort of eco concept...
Just because we've seen the 2010 Chevy Equinox and its curvy sheetmetal doesn't mean we've seen it or known it in its fully biblical sense. Expect to hear a lot about the new direct injection 2.4-Liter fourbanger and six-speed transmission, which combine to help the restyled crossover achieve 30 MPG. Maybe we'll call it ChevyBoost.
As we've hinted at, Chrysler is bringing a host of pseudotastic electric vehicles like the Chrysler EV, Jeep EV and a new Dodge EV called the Dodge Cirucit EV, which looks slightly less conspicuously like a Lotus Evora. What about cars you may be able to drive anytime soon? Not so much.
In addition to the production version of the $80,000 Fisker Karma luxury hybrid, we're expecting Fisker to show off the Fisker Karma S Sunset concept. What is it? The first non-custom hybrid convertible (taking a Sawzall to a Prius doesn't count).
This year's show is going to be a productgasm for Ford, as anyone who scrolls down will notice. There's the 2010 Ford Taurus revealed this morning. Then there's the 2010 Ford Flex and its EcoBoost engine. Speaking of EcoBoost, we learned a lot more about it yesterday. Plus, it's never too early for some 2010 Ford Mustang variations. 2010 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 anyone?
Honda hasn't scheduled any time this year, so other than the Honda Insight sitting on the floor don't expect a lot of news.
Jaguar is bringing the muscle this weekend, which includes both the 2010 Jaguar XKR and the smoking 2010 Jaguar XFR sedan. We may come back with claw marks, but we'd be lying if we said it wasn't part of the fun.
We know the Korean automaker has Soul, but Kia will also bring the Kia Soul'ster to th show floor. While the Soul'ster is merely a concept, we're going to look closely at it to see if it truly hints at a new generation Samurai or is merely the stuff of fluffy fantasy.
The absence of new Mercury products or concepts will shock no one, but the appearance of the production 2010 Lincoln MKT will announce the brand's official jump into the 7-passenger luxury CUV market. Expect more Lincolns and expect more mass affluent" again, reminding us of our limited cash.
The 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible and its S partner will drop their tops at the MINI booth this year.
The well-teased Subaru Legacy Concept will be on display this week, nodding in the direction of future Legacies.
We can't wait to see what Tesla will be putting out this year, other than an empty hand.
Can you say 2010 Toyota Prius? We can, an we'll be covering the new hybrid from all the angles.
The big news for VW this year will be the Volkswagen Bluesport Roadster, a mid-engined turbodiesel sportscar with surprisingly realistic numbers. Though not overwhelmingly fast, the sharp roadster promises fun driving with relatively stellar fuel consumption.
Volvo has already previewed the Volvo S60 Concept and showed us all of the S60's forward-looking skin, which means we'll be holding out for a wagon version of the concept not likely to be debuted. We'll also enjoy watching Volvo execs talk around the fact Ford has tried to put them up for sale.
Check out the Detroit Auto Show Reader's Guide to fully appreciate the Jalopnik auto show experience.