It's a couple of days late, but hey, my laptop croaked.
As you may have guessed by now, the 2009 North American International Auto Show was pretty much a wash-out for new truck or 4x4 tech, but for those of us rooting for the Detroit Three to survive and prosper down the road, it was a heartening experience all the same as both Ford and GM rolled out one nicely-appointed and fuel-efficient production model and concept rig after another; try Googling "2010 Taurus," "Cadillac Converj" or "2010 LaCrosse", and you'll see what we mean. While we were cheering the locals, we also stumbled across a few other odds and ends:
The folks at Kia Motors were showing off their latest experimental alt-fuel rig, a 2009 Borrego that runs on liquid hydrogen. According to Kia, the H2-burner managed to drive recently from San Francisco to LA on only one tank of liquid hydro. Now, we know some HD diesel trucks with 35-gallon tanks that could make a round trip from LA to the Bay on one tank of Number 2, but hey, baby steps on the road to Energry Independence and all that. No word on how many tires the Borrego might've gone through, however.
Kudos to Ford for its in-your-face promotion of the new F-series this year. While GM and Chrysler both scaled back their exhibits to a more bare-bones level, the Blue Oval devoted a sizable portion of its exhibit space to a full-on interactive salon promoting the new F-trucks. If you're in the Detroit area next week, you can experience a ride in a Raptor simulator (a huge hit with juvenile delinq---er, journalists like us), check out cutaways of the new F-150, and see for yourself, in hands-on fashion, how the factory locker works, how "quiet" the rig's sheetmetal is, and measure for yourself the Biggest Bolts in the Business. Size does matter, after all.
Gone (for now) But Never Forgotten Dept.: We'd be remiss if we didn't shed a tear for the Firehouse, the former downtown fire station, right across the street from the Cobo Center, that usually serves as the official after-hours watering hole for scribes and suits alike, courtesy of hosts Chrysler Corp. This year, sadly but not surprisingly, the Pentastar pulled the plug on the usual four-day
drunken orgy family funfest at the 'house, forcing hundreds of starving journalists to (the horor!) Buy Their Own Dinner. Ah well, we busted the per diem this year, but here's hoping Tha 'House is hoppin' and happenin' again next January. It'll be a good sign for the American auto industry if it is.
Because a number of automakers pulled out of the Detroit Show this year, the usual basement denizens were able to relocate to the main floor. As a result, show organizers converted the now-empty basement area into a rambling, wooded indoor slalom course, where you could pilot one of any number of electric and/or hybird vehicles on a pleasant "Eco-Drive" through a faux forest. It was a little dark down there, and if you like the smell of several hundred pounds of mulch, you'd have felt right at home, but we got a kick out of it anyway. Now, it this doesn't prove Detroit's dedication to making a Greener World, we sure as heck don't know what does.