Audi e-tron ConceptEnlarge Photo
Now that the hyped NAIAS press preview has ended, it's time to interpret what we saw last Monday. One theme echoed loudly through Cobo Hall: carmakers will build vehicles with lower fuel consumption, wider use of electric power and longer lines of options if the Feds help create the infrastructure and maintain consumer incentives.
Proof was everywhere. From the racy Audi E-tron to the scooter/commuter Tango, this was as James Bond said, "shocking." Electric power propelled concepts (Toyota FT-CH) and production cars (Honda CR-Z). Pitchmen extolled the reduced environmental impacts of the swank executive-class Audi A8 and the revised, higher mileage Hyundai Elantra Blue grocery getter. The former's navigation system selects the right gear, while the latter's onboard computer prompts you when to shift.
Sure Ford presented a Mustang on a spit. Its brawny V-8 stood nearby as a condiment. But underneath the bright lights, atop the spinning turntables and adjacent to those shapely no-touch, eye-candy models were cars--lots of them. Many were electrified reminders, confided one manufacturer's vice president of industry-government relations, that carmakers depend on utilities, governments, component suppliers and consumers in order make their Eco-electro dream cars a reality.
It was an electric-blue Monday, that prophesized a greener, cleaner future. Now the dirty work commences.