Decisions, decisions. It's Primary Election Day, as Michigan voters head to the polls. But decisions will also be made by potential new car buyers as the North American International Auto Show kicks off this coming Saturday.
Consumers will have a lot more vehicles to choose from if they're in the market for a new car, truck minivan, sport utility vehicle or crossover. And you'll also get to see a host of concept vehicles too, which could make it to new car showrooms in the years ahead.
Toyota showed us the Venza, their crossover sedan that's due to come out in 2009. Toytota officials say many vehicle owners that once drove sedans but switched to minivans and SUV's are now returning to the Sedan segment of the brand. So, they came up with the Venza.
Buick has brought back an old nameplate from the past with the wild and wonderful Riviera concept car. It's a sleek two-door fastback with carbon fiber panels, keyless entry (no visible door handles). It was designed in China and revealed at the '07 Shanghai Auto Show.
GM's Saturn division is promoting its "plug-in" technology with the Saturn VUE green concept. Lexus has the LF-A Roadster that is definitely an eye-catcher. The front end resembles a Cadillac XLR, which looks like the Batmobile!!
BMW's Mini Cooper is getting bigger. They're showing off their new Mini Cooper S Clubman, which is nine inches longer than the base Mini S model. It looks like a station wagon. At 155 inches long with its 1.6 L Turbo, it should be a little screamer, with lots of torque and power under the hood.
If your tastes and pocketbook can handle it, take a few minutes to take in the Audi R8 sports car. You'll see the V-12 TDi version as well as the V-8 version on display.
One of the most stylish, luxurious, impressive vehicles at the auto show is from Fisker Automotive. Its the Fisker Karma electric vehicle. It's a four door model that has the style and prestige of a Mercedes or BMW or Lexus. Company president Henrick Fisker of Denmark says the vehicle will also have a small, four-cylinder engine, possibly diesel, to use as a back-up power source. Estimated price is around 80-thousand dollars, and Fisker says their goal is to have the vehicle on the road by the fourth quarter of '09.
Chrysler's three alternative energy concept vehicles all had different energy sources and different target audiences. The Chrysler division aims at the elegance and simplicity with the ECO Voyager concept. It's a four-door passenger vehicle that's electric, but it also has a hydrogen fuel cell too. The Dodge ZEO (which stands for "Zero Emissions Operations") is more of a sports car that seats four and has an electric motor. The Jeep Renegade is a two-seater, with rugged-looking fenders and wheels and is safe for all environments. You could leave it parked outside in the rain and not worry about ruining the interior because its completely waterproof. And it would have a diesel engine for backup power.
Virtually every automaker has something to offer as far as alternative energy and power sources. But nearly all of them won't be available until 2009, which means, you probably won't find many of them for another year, if that's what you're planning to buy.
The auto show is definitely a family event. Dad can check out all the vehicles and determine which one best suits his family's needs. Mom can assess the vehicles and see which one will be easiest to park, while still have all the room and comfort for ten bags of groceries and six kids for soccer practice. And kids will love the auto show as well, because there are so many hands-on interactive events to see.
If your weekend plans include spending a few hours at the auto show, leave early and plan ahead. Ford Field has the big Monster Truck event on Saturday, so parking will be at a premium. Consider parking in lots near the People Mover and take that right to Cobo Hall.
And of course, when the auto show is all over, mom and dad will head on out to Milford to McNabb's Carpet and grab up some real bargains on all that carpet that covered the floor of Cobo Hall during the auto show!
The North American International Auto Show is really worth attending, even if you're not planning to purchase a new vehicle any time soon. It's just great to see and feel and touch and smell all those new cars and trucks, minivans, SUV's and Crossovers. It's fun to think back and try to remember the FIRST auto show you ever attended. And if this is your first auto show, you'll remember if for many years and years to come.
Gary Lundy, WWJ Newsradio 950.