Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 Detroit Auto Show - NAIAS

It is that time of year again. The 2009 Detroit auto show begins this Sunday, January 15th and runs for two weeks through the 25th. This is the first auto show featuring bailed out US Automakers. To be fair, other countries have have offered assistance to their car manufacturers, so the US is not alone. The Canadian Government announced their aid package right after the United States.

Most major automakers are currently on a shoestring budget, trying to make ends meet and trying to weather the current financial storm. So the question becomes, "What can we expect this year in Detroit?" In light of lower fuel costs (read: cheap gas) and the premium price tag associated with hybrid vehicles, will the manufacturers eschew the green vehicles and promote high profit gas guzzlers once again?

Honda is marketing its new Insight heavily and if it actually demos with a MSRP of $18,000, I am sure it will be a hit. Toyota will be showcasing its new Prius that actually is not so different from the current model. Toyota claims the new model will have a bigger engine, more room and slightly better gas mileage. The question for buyers will be, "Is the price premium of a Toyota Prius worth it or should I go with the Honda Insight?" In these difficult economic times, I cannot see the masses paying a premium for these vehicles.

GM has no vehicle like the Honda Insight or Toyota Prius, so they are a non-factor at this show. The Chevy Volt will not even be ready by next year's show. Chrysler is not expected to introduce a similar vehicle either. Ford and Mercury have a four door sedan that is supposed to get 47 mpg which would make it the only competitor. It could be a bare bones show this year, so be prepared.

What I would like to see is lots of vehicles with plug-in capability. Unfortunately, I will see no such thing as all auto manufacturers oppose the plug with vehemence.

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