Chicago Auto Show: Maybe Size Doesn't Matter
You know, it wasn't that long ago (last year?) when it seemed as if the Chicago Auto Show, already North America's largest, was poised to also overtake Detroit as the continent's most important industry display.
Of course, things are just a tad different today, both for the show and the industry at large. As a result, things in Chicago are rather a mixed bag this year, and, for now, I'm going to whip through a few Krome-selected 'highlights' in one article. So there.
Ford is showing off the 2010 Transit Connect, kind of a European mini-minivan primarily aimed at commercial customers. It's a nice package with a lot of versatility and storage room, and it does achieve 20 mpg in the city. And the Blue Oval is working toward launching an electric version by 2011. That's all great, but sales will be limited unless/until the company commits to a true passenger version.
The reborn Taurus SHO is also making its debut, and the exciting news here is that Ford didn't try to fit a V8 in under the hood. The company really will use its high-tech, high-performance, relatively high-efficiency V6 to power the top Taurus. Now Ford just needs a hybrid here, too, or at least a four-cylinder version tuned specifically for fuel efficiency.
With Nissan a no-show in Detroit, Chicago also marks the first time most U.S. customers can see the Cube. Essentially Nissan's take on the original Scion xB, the cube is small, gets pretty good mileage and, yes, is shaped like a cube. I imagine it will now be just a matter of weeks before someone does the Cube, xB and Kia Soul comparo3 (cubed, get it?).
Kia is introducing its Forte sedan, which replaces the outgoing Spectra in the automaker's lineup. It does look a bit like someone glued the back half of a Pontiac G6 to the front half of a Subaru Impreza, but I mean this in a good way. And while Kia boasts about the Forte's power numbers, the automaker is also keeping its eye on the auto zeitgeist by offering an optional Fuel Economy Package that moves the Forte to the top of the class in terms of highway mpg.
Hyundai is attempting to buildup its motorsports cred with a sporty variant of its Hyundai Genesis coupe and an actual racing version from Rhys Millen, but this doesn't seem to make much economic sense to me. And frankly, the Genesis coupe looks a lot less impressive in person than it does in photos.
I've also got to say something about GM's presence in Chicago. Seeing what's on stage for the General in the Windy City has me feeling as if the company shot its bolt in Detroit and is now just waiting for the end '” or bankruptcy.
It's looking less and less likely that GM will have a viable viability plan to show Congress next week, and that means more and more time will go by before the company is able to focus on actual business instead of mere survival.
But I'm sure all the Transformers fanboys loved that new Corvette concept.