by Carl Modesette. NAIAS Photography by Zerin Dube, Mark Fields photo courtesy of Ford
From 10,000 ft, the glow of Detroit after sunset could be that of just about any other Midwestern city. Altitude and darkness impose a serenity that belies the nocturnal unrest below. Even the vast expanses of unused industrial property and the inch-thick dusting of snow that come into focus right about the time the landing gear drops are anonymous this time of day. The nighttime approach is a stirring equalizer. With the departure of the sun goes any character, and it’s not until you cross over from the too-white lighting of the airport terminal into the dingy glow of sodium-vapor lamps that your senses really have a chance to recalibrate. By the end of your cab ride, reality has set in.
Hyundai pulled the wraps off the new 3-door hatchback Veloster. The Veloster is powered by a 1.6-liter GDI Gamma engine which produces 138 horsepower and is estimated to get up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Weighing in at only 2,584 pounds, the Veloster is meant to be a sporty vehicle that delivers utility with a fun driving experience without stepping on the toes of the more performance oriented Genesis coupe.
We’re just a few weeks away from the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and we’re starting to get our first glimpses of what the manufacturers will be showing off at the show. In the case of MINI, it’s the wacky Beachcomber Concept which appears to be half Jeep, half Cooper. MINI has fitted the Beachcomber Concept with an off-road suspension and tires which they say is “ideal for a spontaneous and active experience.” We’re not exactly sure what that really means, but we do know that the Beachcomber Concept features a new all-wheel drive system called ALL4, which we’re sure will make its way down through the rest of MINI’s lineup. MINI doesn’t go into a great deal of detail about the rest of the Beachcomber Concept’s features other than the vehicle was designed without doors or a conventional roof since they “limit the intensity of the occupant’s encounter with their surrounding world.”
We’re not sure who gets paid to write these press releases, but we are sure that the MINI Beachcomber Concept is one ugly looking vehicle. Look for the crack S:S:L team of Jack Baruth, Suzanne Denbow, Zerin Dube, Byron Hurd, and Carl Modesette to be bringing you photos and coverage live from the 2010 NAIAS floor starting January 11th.
Check out the full gallery of MINI Beachcomber Concept photos after the jump.
GM’s press conference on Sunday was not the most depressing of the day’s events (See: Chrysler), but it certainly wasn’t the most inspiring either. Wagoner’s communications team set him up with a healthy four hundred words that had nothing to do with GM’s financial trouble. Now that’s a solid corporate communications strategy when everything is business as usual, but when you’ve just been floated a loan by some 300 million of your peers, a little humility may be in order. (See: Chrysler — sensing a pattern?). But while ChryCo’s conference may have been the most depressing of the bunch, it was the non-event that was Pontiac’s presence at NAIAS that depressed, disturbed, and frankly offended me as both an enthusiast and as “member” of the press. If you’ve ever shown up to a party where you’re surrounded by dozens of people who were your friends just days before and suddenly don’t want to talk to you, look at you, acknowledge you, or even share the same hundred-square foot area of their apartment, then you know what it’s like to be Pontiac. You don’t know what you did (or didn’t do), but suddenly you’re the fattest, pinkest, most foul-smelling elephant ever to be under the table.
Even though Honda won’t be holding an over-the-top press conference at the 2009 NAIAS, the all-new 2009 Honda Insight Hybrid will still be debuted to the world in Detroit. Ruining all the fun of a surprise, Honda has dropped one photo of the Insight ahead of the show.
The Insight is expected to have annual global sales of 200,000 units per year – approximately 100,000 in North America – and will utilize a new interactive, driver-focused fuel economy enhancement technology named the Ecological Drive Assist System.
The five-passenger, five-door Insight will go on sale in the spring of 2009.
That’s not a Dave Matthews Band lyric, by the way. If it’s still familiar to you, that’s likelyÂ because it’s the title of a short story by Joyce Carol Oates, first published in her Epoch collection in the mid-1960’s. What does it have to do with this column, or with the automotive world as a whole? Well… nothing, actually. But the title’s catchy, and I think it’s a good foundation for a discussion about a twenty-year staple of the American auto industry. According to the NAIAS fact sheet, Detroit has hosted some semblance of an auto show for the better part of a century. It wasn’t until the late eighties that Detroit started to lobby its way into the international spotlight. And while New York, Chicago and Los Angeles also play host to the international automotive media, Detroit hosts the North American International Auto Show. Or at least it did.
At publication time, the list of deserters is as follows: Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Nissan (Infiniti), Suzuki,Â Mitsubishi, Porsche andÂ Land Rover have bailed entirely. Whether any of these companies will have display models on the floor isn’t entirely clear, but their reps will be absent. Honda has also announced that they will not be holding any press events, but it appears their vehicles (including the new Insight, which was supposed to be debuted)Â will be on the floor for viewing and photography. I suppose that fits though, since for many enthusiasts the excitement ofÂ a hybrid vehicle typically ends at its sheetmetal. Now when you compare the sales volumeÂ of these manufacturers to that of those who are still on the floorplan, it may not seem like a catastrophic shift in direction, but it is certainly not insignificant. Two of the Big Japanese 3 are out; two of the smaller Japanese volume sellers are out; and the exoticÂ builders are dropping fast. Keep in mind, most of these announcements have come over the last two weeks.Â We’re still over a month out.