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New Corvette Among More than 50 Previews Scheduled for Detroit Auto Show

Event to deliver scores of new products -- and some "fantasies in chrome."

by on Dec.17, 2012

The new C7 Chevrolet Corvette will be one of the big draws at this year's show. Image courtesy Car & Driver.

From the all-new C7 Chevrolet Corvette to the next-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Detroit Auto Show is hoping to deliver something new for everyone when it opens its doors next month.

Formally known as the 2013 North American International Auto Show, the event has developed a reputation as the most important car show in the U.S. and one of the five must-see shows worldwide. And it intends to maintain that status with an estimated 53 to 56 new products scheduled to debut on the floor of newly expanded Detroit’s Cobo Center.

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“Somewhere between 80% to 90% of them will be worldwide introductions,” says Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, or DADA, the trade group that runs the annual show.

Manufacturers are scheduled to reveal a broad range of products — from minicars to full-size vans and pickups – during the event, the 25th since the once-modest Detroit Auto Show took on the “international” designation.

The 2014 Chevy Corvette is one of the most eagerly awaited debuts planned for the show, while the Mercedes E-Class could be among the most significant “reveals” in the luxury segment. Most makers are keeping their introductions close to the vest but among those who have announced their plans are:

According to Alberts, approximately 35 brands will take part in the show, including not only the usual U.S., European, Japanese and Korean brands but also Guangzhou Automotive, which hopes to be one of the first Chinese makers to enter the U.S. market.

There are actually fewer brands than in the early years of the North American International Auto Show – which serendipitously landed in the spotlight its first year because of the global introduction of the then-new Japanese luxury marques Lexus and Infiniti.  Gone are such once-familiar names as Mercury, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Oldsmobile.

Suzuki will also be absent this year after its recently announced plans to pull out of the U.S. market. While Mitsubishi has countered skeptics who expect it to also abandon North America, it also will be gone from the Detroit show this year.

But the 2013 event will feature the new Tesla and Fisker brands, both California-based manufacturers of electric vehicles.

And a number of brands that walked away from the North American International Show during the depths of the recession will be back this year, including both Nissan and Porsche.  Several other luxury makes, such as Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin, won’t be on display on the floor of Cobo Center.  But they will be showing off their wares nearby at the invitation-only Gallery.

Also organized by the DADA and co-sponsored by American Express, this 1-day gala is limited to AmEx Centurion – or “black card” – and Platinum customers and a select group of other invitees, “folks who can readily afford to buy anything on display,” according to the DADA’s Ash Caza.

Showgoers may notice a few changes this year.  The Cobo convention facility is a bit larger and has added a massive new Atrium along the Detroit River providing a commanding view of Canada less than a mile away.

The 2013 show will open with the announcement of the winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year on the new Atrium stage.  The NACTOY awards are considered among the industry’s most prestigious and are selected by a group of 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists.

(Click Here for a look at the NACTOY finalists.)

The Gallery, which was added to the show in 2009, is just one of many ways that the Detroit Auto Show has changed over the years, observers suggest.  In the early years, organizers scheduled an entire day of media previews just for concept cars, vehicles that former Ford design director Jack Telnack dubbed “fantasies in chrome.” In all, they accounted for a half to as many as two-thirds of the show’s introductions

These days, “That pie is smaller than it used to be,” suggested DADA Executive Director Alberts, down to about a third. And of those concept cars that will appear, such as the Acura MDX concept, most are thinly disguised versions of production vehicles that will actually reach showrooms in the not-too-distant future.

One other significant addition to the Detroit show will return for 2013. The event will give showgoers the opportunity to test drive the latest battery cars and plug-in hybrids. But considering the extreme weather possible for mid-January in Detroit, show organizers have found a novel way to sidestep the worst Mother Nature might deliver, running the test drives in the massive basement of Cobo Center.

(Our thanks to CarandDriver.com for use of their C7 rendering. Here’s a link to their story.)

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