Day one at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is complete, and what have we learned? Here are some of the key stories that will shape the auto industry in 2016 and beyond.
This year’s edition of the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit has been a busy one, with a slew of new product introductions and announcements. Here’s MCG’s take on the major developments so far with the focus, naturally, on the Motor City’s car makers for the most part. Here are some of the cars the industry will be watching this year, and possibly for years to come.
Battery electric vehicles take a solid step closer to the consumer mainstream with the Chevy Bolt. Its 60-kWh battery pack weighs just 960 lbs and provides a range of more than 200 miles, while the vehicle’s street price is in the $30,000 range (including federal energy credit). A GM-designed 150-kW/200 hp motor zaps the Bolt from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of this car to General Motors and to the market for electric driving in general,” says Wired magazine.
Ford executive vice president for product development Raj Nair introduced a revamped Fusion lineup for 2017, including the V6 Sport, Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi, and the luxury-tinged Platinum sedan. But the performance seekers in the crowd, we expect, will be lasered in on the V6 Sport, which boasts all-wheel-drive, an adaptive damper system, and a 2.7-liter, 325 hp EcoBoost V6 with 350 lb-ft of torque.
Honda abandoned the North American light truck market in 2014 with hardly a yawn from consumers, as barely 15,000 Ridgeline pickups were sold that final year. Now the Japanese manufacturer has returned to the category with a new 2017 Ridgeline with front-drive chassis, unitized cab and bed assembly, and an audio system hidden in the cargo box. The car-like pickup arrives in showrooms later this year to a more receptive audience, Honda is hoping.
Unveiled in concept form at the New York Auto Show last April, the 2017 Lincoln Continental now takes a bow as a bona fide production car. A twin-turbo, 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 supplies 400 hp to the standard all-wheel-drive system, while the passenger-coddling luxury features include 30-way heated and cooled seats. Produced at Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant, the Continental flagship should bring a much-needed buzz to Lincoln showrooms when it arrives in autumn of 2016.
Seven years after GM’s historic bankruptcy and reorganization, the automaker’s four remaining North American brands are still evolving and defining themselves. Buick’s Avista concept, a close-coupled sports coupe with rear-wheel drive and a 400 hp, twin-turbo V6, may signal a more performance-oriented direction for GM’s near-luxury brand. However, Buick has yet to announce any production intent for the Avista. The new Envision crossover coming out this spring could speak more to the future of the Buick brand: It’s manufactured in China.
The rest of the automakers may have given up on the minivan, but Chrysler, the originator of the genre, has not yet thrown in the towel. The latest iteration of the Chrysler minivan sports gobs of family-friendly convenience features, crossover-like styling, and a recycled crossover name: Pacifica. And there’s a plug-in hybrid version, too—the only such example in the category. Will this be the minivan’s last stand? We’ll begin to see when the Pacifica goes on sale this spring.
North American International Auto Show January 11-24, 2016; 1 Washington Blvd, Cobo Center, Detroit, MI 48226; Public Show January 16-24; tickets and info here.