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January 26, 2012

NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show Proved Auto Makers Are Listening..

This month featured the country’s most revered auto show NAIAS’, Detroit Auto Show.  Upon first thought of the show chills of excitement made me giddy to be able to see the latest models for 2012 and beyond. Car manufacturer’s attended from across the globe and provided more than enough options when it came to new vehicles coming soon (or within the next year) to local dealerships.
The theme from the major auto players seemed to be adding diversity to vehicles so they could perform at multiple levels.  The line-up was immense while advances in safety, and technology were very clearly enhanced.

IMG_0078[1]The show was also a way for manufacturer’s to show they have not only been listening to consumers but they have been heeding the call and meeting their needs.  One of the most buzzed about vehicles at the show (which has been kept tightly under wraps) was the new fully redesigned Ford Fusion.  No longer a big brother version to the Focus, the Fusion is now completely its own unique car.  It has midsize sized feel with a streamlined and sporty vibe. The Fusion will be offered with eco-options such as the pure electric Energi and the Fusion Hybrid models which will be released in Fall.  The coolest aspects of the Fusion Energi is that it takes half of the time to charge an Energi than most other electric cars within its class and it more than doubles the amount of electric drive time.

Ford then continued to show their eco-friendlier side by announcing they will be launching six electric and hybrid cars releasing this year to early next. They are the Ford Focus, Fusion (standard, hybrid and Energi), C Max Energy, C Max Hybrid, and Ford's Transit Connect Van.  Fusion Hybrid designers say they look to the release and the capabilities of the hybrid in achieving up to 47 miles per gallon later this fall. 

Ford has also formed an electric partnership with  SunPower Corporation, “the most powerful solar panels on the planet”.  The  solar panel maker has created a program for Ford electric car owners to install panels on their homes roof and use them to create energy for their home and even charge their car! 

From Energy saving components to eco-conscious consumers, another premier highlight at NAIAS was the introduction of this year’s Smart Car and its latest variations.  On-hand to introduce this IMG_0094[1]eco-friendly vehicle was none other than comedian John Lovitz who took the stage and warmed up the crowd.  Attendees were then shown the new fortwo model which can obtain a 60 percent battery recharge in three hours.  One executive dubbed it the ultimate city car with the smallest carbon footprint on the road. With its electric drive, state of the art safety features such as Satellite sensors (which detect side crashes) and ESP sensors (which detect a loss of control, brakes, and individual wheels), the new little ride showed a few new sides to its complete little package.  There are new variations of Smart Cars out which are perfect for sporting enthusiasts and can even carry bikes! There is also an artistic version which features dent resistant pop-out body panels that can be custom painted by the customer.

“We are introducing our Smart Expressions program which allows customers to more than just choose body color of their car.  They can use their car as a fashion accessory.” The opportunity to create IMG_0131[1]personal customization and artistic designs is perfect for the artist in us all.

Venturing from the Smart Car/ Mercedes display one will find themselves right in the middle of Euro car row.  For those who do enjoy smaller cars, but not as extreme as the Smart Car then they might be fully fascinated by Volkswagon’s new concept E-Bugster (Electric Bugster).  This two seater comes with 114 hp lithium ion battery which equals zero emissions driving. 

With a trimmer, sleeker and more defined body, this new VW Bug literally stopped those who walked by it in their tracks.  It’s unique and more fluid design screamed fun, IMG_0111[1] while it still possessed many bug-like retro attributes.  The energy bug has some of the most up to date capabilities in its class.  There is also an energy consumption display, driving range indicator, battery charge state, and battery regeneration gauge.  The E-Bugster Concept truly morphed the Bug of yesteryear into a futuristic and yet nostalgic ride. 

Moving out of the euro car section into something more American meant following signs and rounding a corner.  This brought us to the Chrysler, RAM, Dodge display where a buzz of Dodge’s newest compact car filled the air.  The excitement was about the Dodge Dart, its size, capabilities and economically friendly price tag.

Starting at $16,000 the 2013 Dart drew appreciation from the crowds and is sure to please everyone in the family.  This fully loaded and aerodynamically contoured ride is a testament that compact cars are no IMG_0091[1]longer boring.  With plenty of room for five the Dart is packed full of the latest state-of-the-art technology and a plethora of safety features to keep the family safe.

“The Dart is a groundbreaking car that will surprise and delight customers who want a no-compromise, fun-to-drive car that’s a great value,” Reid Bigland, President and CEO of Dodge said.  This latest release will offer choices of three fuel-efficient engines and three transmission choices, along with five trim levels.

This newly designed blast from the past is not even a shell of its former self especially when it comes to its tech savvy features.  U-Connect information system features an 8.4” touchscreen with over  150 customization options.  There is also plenty of storage in the glove box to secure an  i-Pad®.  For those who like a little mood with their drive, ambient lighting abounds throughout the Dart and is even located in the cars foot wells.

The Dart is also equipped with four-wheel, four-channel anti lock brakes, brake assist, lock differential, ready alert braking and support, hydraulic boost compensations, stability control, roll mitigation, hill start assist, park view rear camera and rear park assist .  Then blind spot monitoring, and rear cross path detection are also included just for extra measure.

Another ‘safe pick’ for 2012 is the Jeep Cherokee which has won eight Consumer’s Digest Best Buy awards, received an IIAHS top safety pick for 2011 and in October achieved a 26% sales increase.  These awards show that the manufacturer is staying competitive and at the top of their game.  It also means that the Cherokee is a serious SUV to consider for those who may be in the market.

IMG_0164[1]In keeping with the trend of enhanced passenger safety, Michelin was on hand to not only sponsor NAIAS but to promote their amazing new tires ‘The Defender’. The Defender will be available starting in April 2012, will be made in 38 different sizes, and will feature a 90,000 mile warranty.

"The Defender is the best standard passenger car tire we at Michelin have ever made, delivering tremendous quality and value to our consumers," said Pete Selleck, chairman and president, Michelin North America.  "We listened to the marketplace and realized American tire buyers are looking for a safe, fuel-efficient tire, with long tread life and excellent value for the money.”  “The Defender can stop 31’ shorter than leading competitors and has been designed to last up to 21,000 miles longer than the competition,” Selleck said.

Safety, updated designs, and technology were seen throughout every display at the Nation’s largest new car show. 

The 2012 and 2013 models shown at NAIAS this year proved that most manufacturers have been heeding consumers needs, and making great strides to bring higher standards and quality vehicles back to our nations roads.  



Diana Claussen
Senior Editor



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