This year’s North American International Auto Show was a show of contrasts according to my brother and sister in law, Todd and Tricia Wright of Davison, Michigan. They took more than 300 photos as they spent a day on assignment for First Monday.
According to Tricia the show seemed to be divided into two distinct sections, “electric and autonomous cars and big off road and outdoor sports”. In short what that means is electric cars without drivers and trucks, Jeeps and more trucks.
You can appreciate that Tricia, an American who works in the court system in Flint and drives a Dodge 1500 half ton and her husband Todd, who teaches auto mechanics and drives a Jeep were mostly interested in the latter.
“Impressive” is how the coupled described the truck, and we should probably add here the SUV side of the show. Dodge showed off its new Ram 1500, Chevy’s Silverado with “mixed material construction” is bigger and 450 lbs. lighter and then there is the new Ford F150 diesel, the new Ford Ranger and for those who already own a Jeep the Jeep Cherokee.
At this point let’s just say of the more than 300 photos taken by my in laws, most of their assignment time appears to have been allotted to trucks, SUVs and Jeeps.
This couple is like a majority of Americans. They own a truck and a Jeep, which in the world of the Big Three makes sense.
Yes, pick trucks and Jeeps are still where the sales are and thus the profits which are supposed to go up again this year.
The good news for Ford, GM and FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is the entries look good according to the Wrights from Davison. The Ram looks aggressive yet upscale, The Silverado is bigger, yet lighter and the F150 not only has an aluminum body but a diesel engine.
To offset Ford’s diesel the Silverado has an interesting engine feature. It comes with a fuel cutoff allowing it to fire only on the cylinders needed. Which means the V8 engine could potentially operate on just two cylinders at highway speeds.
While the Detroit Auto Show may be mostly about trucks and SUVs the ongoing question is how much longer can trucks rule?
As my sister in law noted autonomous cars and EVs were a hot topic too.
Automakers fell all over themselves predicting a glorious future for electric vehicles.
The message was clear that if a car company doesn’t have electric vehicles and an autonomous strategy in place it will right shortly. The Detroit show was inundated with announcements about hardware, software and new investments.
Ford, for example said it is doubling its EV investment to $11 billion adding that it is planning 24 plug – in hybrids and 16 full EVs in the next four years. GM said it is going to spend a billion on autonomy this year and FCA is teaming up with BMW and Intel to develop its own autonomous driving system.
Don’t be surprised if an electric pick up that drives itself is introduced by next year.
For the Wrights from Davison that’s not in the immediate future.