Have you ever had an experience which is so delightful, mesmerizing and magical that it almost seems like a dream? You know, like that first date where you think you’ve found your “soulmate” and your heart skips a beat. Or how about that pass, catch, goal, hit, match or race that allows your team to win the championship? Maybe even having that perfect ride once you slip into your new car and take it for a spin that very first time. Well, that’s the experience experienced at this years’ auto show which caught me completely by surprise.
It’s hard to put my finger on why this year’s experience “blew away” any prior visit to the auto show in Detroit. Of course, it goes without saying that Alex Doherty of The Fulkerson Group was instrumental in setting the tone of our exhibit floor experience. Kudos to her for the warmth, grace and knowledge she shared.
Was it the candy apple, all electric Tesla Model S P85D that had me searching for the key to drive it onto Washington Boulevard that very moment? Maybe the conversation I had with that U of M Stamps School of Art & Design MFA Candidate Cameron Van Dyke about the new bike/car car/bike he built named the Zeppelin as an alternative “vehicle” to tool around in any urban area? Was it the pride I felt about a rebuilt Cobo Hall that truly shined and every square inch of the exhibit hall space being used for “bigger than life” car displays? It could have been the relaxing, green “innovation park” recreated at the Ford exhibit complete with evergreens, water and plants. Or maybe hearing so many different languages on the exhibit floor and seeing the excitement from the international media as one car after another made their debut.
While the “cars are the stars”, I couldn’t help thinking how far both Detroit and this NAIAS show have come since the dark days of 2008-2010 when the show had lost its luster and certain unnamed car companies were beginning to skip this “stop” as unnecessary. So far from the truth today. Detroit really felt like the “epicenter of the universe” last Monday and it’s a great source of pride for Detroiters to welcome the world to what many of us hope will once again be a world class city. With the bankruptcy behind us, record numbers of visitors, exhibitors, etc., to the show and a city that is beginning to “dust itself off” from 60 years of decline, it did seem like a breath of fresh air had filled the large exhibition space this year.
Since the cars are the stars, it was great to see so many fuel efficient, hybrid and pure electric vehicles on the main exhibit floor of the NAIAS. It wasn’t that long ago when “green cars” were relegated to Cobo’s lower level for the “green geeks” to trek down and see what was new. Now, just about every manufacturer has either a new model or a prototype that “hypes up” its mileage, sustainable materials, fossil fuel free engine or some alternative design, feature or material to ponder. While many of the claims are still “hype”, there are some very cool alternative gas vehicles to show off.
As a matter of fact, there is a growing trend happening throughout the industry … cars are being placed on a diet. In other words, more models and future cars are getting lighter, which positively influences many factors, including: energy efficiency, fuel mileage, sustainability, price, maintenance, performance, design, functionality and more. The show can’t be covered in a few hours, but what appears below are some of the highlights of sustainable cars at the 2015 NAIAS show.
GM rolled out the Chevy Volt with new features, better gas mileage and a greater EV range. While GM’s hopeful to sell more units, it’s probably an uphill struggle with sub $2 per gallon gas at the moment. The Bolt EV concept car seems to take Chevrolet design in a bold new direction. This futuristic long range, all electric vehicle is a concept car which represents Chevy’s vision for a global, affordable (approx. $30,000) EV solution. We’ll see if it makes the cut in 2017, as it lost out to the Buick Avenir for best concept car at this years’ auto show.
Other notable fanfare was heaped on the 2016 Acura NSX. The upcoming 2016 NSX will retain the original’s mid-engine, V-6 structure, but will add 2 electric motors to become a hybrid powerhouse. The power from the gas engine will be routed to the rear wheels, while two electric motors will drive the front wheels as part of Acura’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive) system. Take that, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari !
Finally, honorable mentions include the 2016 Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid and the pure electric compact Nissan Leaf EV. Both of these vehicles are functional, press the envelope on shorter charging time, have increased range and seem to be reasonably priced for the technology provided. The Ford Focus electric vehicle just received a haircut on price, which makes it more competitive in this class.
No excuses! Get to the auto show this year. Become part of the story which sets record attendance, provides Detroit businesses a “shot in the arm” and takes you on a ride to “sensory overload”. Let’s hope the AC/DCs 1980 hit “Back in Black” playing continuously at the show is the theme song for Detroit’s future solvency, not just the fortunes of future NAIAS shows or the auto industry’s stellar comeback.
ROBERT E. MATTLER, Associate Broker, Attorney and LEED AP BD+C, is Director of Green Brokerage at Armada Real Estate Services in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He speaks, writes and reports about emerging green real estate and development issues in Michigan and elsewhere. Bob is a senior correspondent for www.greeningdetroit.com For more information, contact Bob at Greening Detroit (248) 762-4370; or by e-mail: email@example.com
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