The 2019 International Auto Show season kicked off earlier this week in Detroit with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The event annually welcomes 5,000 or so journalists from all around the world and 750,000 public spectators over its 2-week span. This is where the auto industry goes to show off their latest and greatest offerings. After all, it’s where the industry began.
Like the auto industry itself, the NAIAS is in a state of change. This is the final year that it will be held in January. In 2020 it moves to June to capitalize on warmer temperatures outdoors and allow for more outdoor displays and driving events. As we’ve seen in years past OEM’s continue to pull out of Detroit to focus on other shows or market their products in other ways. This year BMW, Audi, and Mercedes decided not to show following the lead of Jaguar, Porsche, and others.
The absence of traditional automakers has freed up space for smaller companies like Mahindra with their Jeep knockoffs and China’s GAC to name a few. Automotive suppliers like Michelin, Denso, and Aisin now get prominent space on the main show floor. Kia built an off-road course to demonstrate their new Telluride SUV. Even the food court which has been downstairs or next door for years had significant space where new cars sat at previous shows. Another sign of change was a large display of luxury and supercars by dealer Envy Auto Group. Elsewhere the RK Rally group had an even larger area showcasing past and future competitors in their rally events.
All that talk of change takes us to the GM display and its myriad of SUV’s and trucks which made up probably 80-85% of the overall display. The Impala, Cruze, and Volt were already gone. The Malibu and Sonic carried the sedan torch. The new Blazer and Silverado joined established stablemates Equinox, Trax, and Traverse front and center in the display.
A Ceramic Matrix Gray ZR1 with red interior and brake calipers sat on a turntable over in the far corner close to an exit door and adjacent to the Ford display. While the car drew crowds last year its draw this year seemed less. We were there very early in the day and we did see various members of the media photographing it, but it’s clear that autonomous cars, electrification, and cross over SUV’s claim everyone’s attention these days. And, no, there was no talk of the mid-engine C8 making a surprise appearance in Detroit. Nearby a Watkins Glen Gray Grand Sport Coupe with black interior and yellow calipers sat next to a Colorado, a Tahoe, and a new Silverado.
Even the two display Camaros saw minimal foot traffic while we were there. One Camaro did wear Shock Yellow paint which could or could not eventually make its way over to Corvette. Our photos don’t do it justice, but it actually is quite a striking color.
Chevrolet didn’t hold any press conferences this year and the traffic level in their display was noticeably lower than previous years. A year from now could a whole new ball game. We expect to be you showing photos of a mid-engine Corvette potentially outside. Will we see hybrid or electric versions of it as well? We have no idea so we, like you, will just have to wait and see what happens.
Enjoy our gallery from the final January version of the North American International Auto Show.
Photos by Steve Burns
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