No one is excited about leaving home right after the new year, but what better way to kick-start 2006 than the North American International Auto Show in Detroit?
It's really two shows in one. Last weekend was the start of press days. Almost 7,000 journalists from all over the world descended on Detroit for three days of press business. During those days, we saw about 60 introductions of production and concept cars and trucks. It was a hectic time, exhausting and exciting all at once.
It doesn't seem that long ago that Toyota and Nissan introduced their new luxury brands, Lexus and Infiniti, to the world at the auto show in Detroit. That was 17 years ago, and it changed the Detroit show, putting it up there with the world-class shows in Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo.
One thing that makes this show so interesting is the huge participation of automotive executives from all over the world. Detroit's show is that important. It is even more amazing to realize that the show is transformed into something different for its public run.
This year things will be a bit more complicated. Super Bowl XL is hot on the heels of the motor show. They'll have to turn Detroit's Cobo Center into a football experience in what might seem like the blink of an eye.
There is something very exciting about motor shows, and Detroit certainly has all the ingredients. No doubt everyone will be curious about the fate of General Motors and Ford. The many introductions by those two companies will be even more important than normal.
Ford and GM executives will have a tough time during the show. They'll want to talk about their new products, but everyone else will want to talk about the health of the corporations. It will be an interesting challenge.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is hosting its last January car show. The L.A. show will shift to November, which means that that city will have two shows this year. That might be just right for Los Angeles.
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is a significant show and one worth attending if you're in this business. Happy New Year.
Crain is editorial director of Rubber & Plastics News.