Previous post:

Next post:

Tech coverage of the 2005 North American International Auto Show – Impressions

January 1, 2005

in All Articles,Cars and auto

The show was very impressive. I’ve been to a few auto shows before, including the NAIAS. I’ve heard rumors that the show is growing beyond the size of Cobo Hall. Being at the show, I can understand that. You might think that 2.4 million square feet is enough, but no. I blame those bulky SUVs.

Here are some random thoughts I had while walking around the show.

The NAIAS Atmosphere

  • Regarding technology, there seemed to be more refinement rather than innovation. Refinement is needed, of course, but I was hoping to see more new techs. Not a lot of surprises, but a lot of good improvements on existing ideas.
  • Walking through the crowds, I saw there were two types of people at NAIAS. Type 1 were the people who stared at the cars and discussed various features. Type 2 were the ones who spent most of the time hunched over, staring at their digital camera readouts. I’m proud to say I’m a type 2. (And I will be until I figure out how to take a perfect picture. As I’m sure you noticed from this site, I’m a writer, not a photographer.)
  • The diversity was great. I was surrounded by people speaking languages you rarely hear. Swedish, Japanese, German and others, it was a good feeing to be near so many experts of the industry.
  • Let’s take a moment to acknowledge Albert Cobo.



You’ve got to have been pretty cool to have a major Detroit building named after you. No matter what I accomplish in life, I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I’ll have national car shows hosted in a building dedicated to my name.



..Not to mention I don’t think my head would look that good if carved in stone.



  • As a computer geek, I’m very interested in the technology behind the show. With all the gigantic 100-foot long LCD screens, pumping sound systems and interactive demos, what’s really running everything? While walking around, I couldn’t resist taking this shot of a large presentation monitor as the controlling computer rebooted:

Windows 98 running behind the scenes at a national auto show in 2005? Amazing.


I was hoping to see more emphasis on fuel economy. My opinion is that SUVs in most applications are a waste of fuel, and their increased size and top-heavy structure makes them dangerous to themselves and others. Sure, there may be a need for them, but if all you need is extra storage and passenger room, get a minivan or a wagon-type car. Until we focus less on monster HP, 2-ton SUVs, I’m not going anywhere near aSmart car, regardless of mileage or assured safety. If we’re really as dependant on oil as the media says, let’s do something about it. Hybrids are a good start and a possible transition to non-gas technologies. The next few years will show how good those electric engines are in terms of reliability.

For those interested, here’s a quick list of the higher-mileage cars available.

While at the show, non-hybrid cars like these caught my eye in terms of mileage and still maintaining a cool look:

  • Aesthetically, I like the look of the Saturn ION (26/35 MPG). Unfortunately, Saturn hasn’t been doing well lately. But I feel they’re still competitive in terms of styling, economy and performance.


Not bad, and the 41 MPG on a standard combustion engine is very nice.

  • Scion XA (32/37 manual and 31/38 MPG automatic)Low price and high mileage. I think I’ve made my point.


There is an increasing push for Diesel vehicles. With better mileage, cleaner emissions and the ability to run grain-derived diesel fuel, diesels aren’t sounding so bad. One car I’ve got my eye on is the VW Golf. 46 MPG sounds pretty nice.

A popular criticism of old diesel engines is the exhaust – smelly and polluting. This problem has largely been solved due to better emissions control. (Read about this application in the Jeep Liberty here. Look for the 2.8-litre common rail diesel information.) The picture below shows advanced emissions control from Daimler-Chrysler.

The text reads:

“DaimlerChrysler is shaping the future of diesel. While common rail technology adds new excitement to the driving experience, next generation emission control technology helps cut down on raw emissions as well. The diesel particle filter (DPF) removes small soot particles from the exhaust stream, disintegrating them with a high temperature blast.”

Brand Attitude

Each company’s attitude was more obvious than a Pepsi product placement in a Hollywood movie. This is not necessarily a bad thing. While diversification is good when selling a product, sometimes it really pays to stick with an image. Here are the brands that I feel defined themselves the best.


They’re bold and in your face. They have big displays advertising powerful cars and trucks. They’ve been around a long time, and have history on their side. Are you a Ford Truck Man? Toby Keith is. You want to be like Toby, don’t you?

Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper crowd is a fun crowd. Young, hip style, and action-packed. With pumping music, a comfy sitting area with colored lighting and a juice bar, the Mini Cooper area was more of a party feel than any of the other brands.


Cadillac is refinement and class. Their information booth didn’t have juice smoothies but more sophisticated drinks. No neon lighting or flashy displays here. Just dark-grained wood, simple lines, flowers and company representatives in dark suits.

Previous post:

Next post: