Henny's Wrap 2012 Detroit Auto Show


See Complete Video 2012 Detroit Auto Show Press Pass Coverage

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
Amsterdam Bureau
Photos - Thom Cannell
The Auto Channel

DETROIT, January 10, 2012. Before making arrangements to fly to Motown, I thought about how the atmosphere would be this time. Would it be as pessimistic as the past two years? Maybe not..

Now, with the media days behind us, I am looking back with a positive feeling. With some 50 production and concept cars, there was more interesting news than the press conference schedule issued before the show indicated.

Remarkable was that there were by for not as many electric vehicles as one or two years ago. Which I think is realistic since the average car on the roads (worldwide) will not be one with an electric drivetrain.

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The first day took off with the sober presentation of the 2013 Ford Fusion,
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Ford’s new world car, which will be dubbed Mondeo in Europe. The Mondeo was used for the Contour and had a good image. The Fusion is good looking with nice design lines and knowing Ford, you can expect driving qualities will be as good as those of the last generation.


Chrysler showed the Dodge Dart, which is a nice mainstream car. A colleague asked me: who would buy such a car (obviously he was not impressed) and I thought about relatives who stick to the same brand and buy new models every now and then. Why not? They know what they are getting and are satisfied with the dealer.

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Chevy unveiled the Tru 140S concept car with the same weird name as the Code 130R that debuted last year. There was no explanation about the name, but GM said such a model should attrack ‘millennials’, a new generation of car buyers between 15 and 30 years. According to GM there are some 80 million of them in the US with a lot of spending power.

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On to Mercedes-Benz who had Jon Lovitz help unveil its new SL at the eve of the show in the Westin hotel for invited journalists.
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It is nice looking, but to be honest, I do not see a true design philosophy here. Interesting though is the innovative Magic Vision Control. It is a wipe-/wash system with water coming from the washer blade and sprayed directly in front of it to be wiped immediately after. You do not even notice the windshield getting wet! New is also the availability of heated blades, which take care of snow and ice adding on the blades. Even warm water can be sprayed onto the windshield

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It was good that Mercedes and Porsche took their new their open models to Detroit - the Porsche 911 Cabrio was there too – and that also VW and BMW were presenting new models. The latter unveiled the BMW Active5 Hybrid, the new 3 Series and the M5, while
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Mini saved the world premiere for the Roadster for Motown. It is amazing that Mini is able to develop new models from a practically unchanged base design. I like it very much, but everybody realizes it will be a niche car and not sell as many as the Mini One and the Countryman, the larger models that is an absolute success.

Also the innovative BMW i-brand models, the electric i3 city car and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car made it onto the stage, but they made their North-American premiere in LA last November.

I especially liked the return of the Japanese car manufacturers Toyota and Honda to the sports car segment, because that is what the presentation of their concept cars indicates.

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Honda (Acura) came up with the stunning NSX and says the next generation will arrive within 3 years. Good thing, since Honda left the segment after discontinuing the NSX in 2005 and its smaller S2000 three years ago.

Toyota already showed the FT-86 sports car that together with the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ is part of a triplet. They all look nice and are important for the rejuvenation of the brand, just like the NSX will do for Honda. And...what the 350Z – now the 370 Z and the GT-R are doing for Nissan!

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My favorite of this year’s show is clearly the Lexus FL-LC that will be an strong opponent for the NSX in the near future. This all means that exciting products are on their way and will bring back some buss at Toyota and Honda, who recently focused much on their hybrid models. In this respect I should not forget to say that I also liked the Scion C and even better the Toyota SN4 Plug-in hybrid that hints at a real interesting and sporty new fuel efficient models coming up soon.

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Hyundai launched its new Genesis Coupe and the nice looking Elantra that with an affordable price will attract younger buyers indeed. In my heart I hope that buyers will also like the Shelby models, the Shelby GTS with its conversion from a
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Ford Mustang priced around 20,000 dollars will educate them in loving muscle powered rear-wheel drive cars.

Like I said, there were many interesting models in Detroit, but the above selection not only added to the buzz in Detroit, it shows that, it is also about sex appeal.

From what I have seen at the 2012 Detroit and 2011 LA shows, there will lots of great car news in 2012… and you will be able to read about it here on The Auto Channel, tot zo Henny

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