Detroit Auto Show 2010: Is It Back From The Dead?

Last year there would have been more life in a morgue than at the North American International Auto Show.  Buzz words such as “Eco” and “Green” so easy to fall off the tongue were replaced with words like “economic downturn” and “recession”.  Journalists ambled around like desperate rats looking for a tidbit of good food or good news.

This year the only thing that stayed the same is the cold snowy weather.

While the crowds of media were visibly smaller, the cars were visible.  Leaner the attendance and the vehicles were more accessible. Gone were the celebrities, acrobats and live cattle, manufacturers focused on their hardware – a welcomed change.

Education and innovation as displays included explanations of vehicle dynamics.  More engine cutaways and less give-aways – no one needs another keychain.  Press kits no longer cause back aches as most manufacturers went the paperless route.

As my colleague Lorraine Sommerfeld put it in one display of small cars: “It looks like someone opened a bag of Skittles here”.  Bright colours and brightened moods – it seemed like the corporate folk have been chastised into caring about theirs cars and the consumers that buy them. From safety to storage, vehicles are delivering performance and value for the price range. 

While some brands like Porsche and Lamborghini were visibly missing, other luxury and exotics still provided enough eye candy and drool factor the car lover to enjoy.

The happiest of all were the hundreds of labourers working the show. Detroit has been hard hit and unemployment is high locals were happy to have even a few days of work even if it meant the repeated dusting of an already spotless car.

Journalists were content to have a good coffee and comfortable lounge to relax in between the fifteen or so manufacturer press conferences the first day and the handful of others the second – making the media preview effectively over in half the time of years gone by.

Where before the Manufacturers aimed at being bigger, at this year’s auto show they were determined to be the best. It may be premature to be optimistic but it is always better to look at the fuel cell as half charged rather than half drained.



Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.