North American International Auto Show 2014 Recap

Now that the North American International Auto Show is over for another year, RedlineNorth takes a look back at the highlights of this year’s show, identifies some trends as well as personal favourites.

Over 800,000 people visited the NAIAS this year, an eleven year high. Along with the 5,169 journalists in attendance and an estimated $365 million it brought to the local economy it’s fair to say Detroit is back!


Plug-in Electric Vehicles were more prevalent at this year’s show, from the newly released BMW i3 (available as both a pure electric and with a back-up gasoline engine) to the plug-in version of the Porsche Panamera to the Cadillac ELR, the availability of plug-in vehicles across manufacturers as well as product lines is visibly increasing. From zero electric vehicles being available in the market only five short years ago, to upwards of twenty different models in 2014, consumers are the big winner here in terms of choice. The real challenge going forward is for manufacturers to offer an affordable plug-in SUV/CUV. Mitsubishi may be first out the gate in North America with its plug-in hybrid electric Outlander.


Cadillac ELR


Porsche Panamera

The next significant wave of technology to hit showrooms beyond electric drivetrains is likely to be the autonomous, or self driving vehicle.  This technology can fit well with electric vehicles and at the show Nissan had on display a right hand drive Leaf fitted with autonomous vehicle technology, along with a video showing the self driving vehicle in action on the streets in Japan. While we don’t expect to see fully autonomous vehicles to hit showrooms within the next five years, its encouraging to see the realm of the possible being stretched by the OEMs. 


An Autonomous Drive Nissan Leaf

Overall, OEMs are on the whole offering a number of models with significant fuel economy savings from currently available electric vehicles to fuel cell concept vehicles as well as weight saving technologies such as Ford’s new aluminum body for its F150, shown below incognito when it was run in the Baja 1000.  


2014 Ford F150

There were a number of North American and World debuts at the show this year including the 2015 WRX STI from Subaru (shown below).  With a 305 hp turbocharged engine, 67% faster steering response, and matted to a 6 speed manual gear box this car is a rocket. It’s also nice to see Subaru reverting back to the more classic sedan style STI.NAIS-9

There was plenty of eye candy on display in Detroit this year – we’re referring to the cars of course – from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to the Lexus RC F and the Dodge SRT Viper (shown below), raw power in the form of performance cars stole the show.


SRT Viper


Porsche 918 Spyder

One of the star’s of the show was this beautiful Porsche 918 Spyder, which unfortunately was displayed behind glass so we could not get up and close.  However, another darling of the show was the new 911 Targa which incorporates all the elegance of the 1970s Targa model with the latest Porsche technology and design.

911 Targa

911 Targa

Finally it wouldn’t be an auto show without some concept vehicles including this one from Nissan.   The square front end of this concept reminded us of BMW styling cues from the 1980s.

Nissan Idx Concept

Nissan IDx Concept

Overall, this year’s North American International Auto Show had something for everyone, which judging by the surge in the number of visitors this year, resonated well with the general public.  It’s always a pleasure visiting the NAIAS, especially given the hospitality of the host city of Detroit. Despite is tenuous financial footing, Detroit is on its way back.  It’s down, but definitely not out.  RedlineNorth is already looking forward to 2015.

Sources: CBC

Toyota FT-1 concept car

Toyota surprised us all today at the North American International Auto Show with the reveal of their stunning FT-1 sports car concept.  First devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment, the FT-1 concept leapt from the screen to the stage in a race-inspired press conference at Detroit’s COBO Hall.

The name says it all. FT-1 stands for “Future Toyota,” and the number “1” represents the ultimate. According to its designers, the FT-1 Concept is the ultimate expression of a Toyota coupe design, building upon Toyota’s rich sports coupe heritage dating back to the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2 and most recently Scion FR-S. In addition, the concept draws inspiration from Calty’s more recent sports car concept work such as FT-HS (2007) and the Lexus LF-LC (2012).

The front engine rear-wheel drive configuration locates the cockpit far rearward within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution.  This design element also helps create the classic sports car proportions one would expect from a vehicle poised to dominate even the most challenging road course. The cockpit’s wrap around windshield and side glass openings are a distinct nod to the design of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.

The interior is a focused, highly functional “place of business” that locates the driver at the controls behind an F1 inspired steering-wheel.  The intimate, low slung cockpit has its A-pillars set far back to help optimize cornering vision and sensation of the cabin’s intimacy.  The cockpit’s sense of minimalism adds to the purposefulness of the driver-focused environment with an emphasis on light weight components such as the composite seat covered with just the right amount of padding in only the areas that come into contact with the driver. A color heads-up display keeps the driver’s attention on the road ahead, with vital information projected just above the steering wheel within the driver’s line of sight.

While technical specifications are not provided, one can assume that the FT-1 represents an ideally balanced front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout powered by a high performance engine. Beneath a transparent glass hood, an ambiguous engine cover hides a powerplant left to the imagination of the onlooker.

With the recent launch of Honda’s NSX concept and the success of Nissan’s GT-R model it’s not surprising Toyota is trying to amp things up with a possible Supra replacement. We really hope this one comes to fruition soon as we can’t wait to test this one out on a race track.

Midweek News Update

As today is hump day we wanted to provide you with a brief auto news wrap up. Here in Ontario, the big news today was a joint announcement by Canada’s Provincial and Federal governments to provide Toyota Canada with a $34 million investment to help the auto maker build the Lexus RX450h hybrid at their plant in Cambridge, Ontario.  See here for full article.


In other major news, here is an amazing video from Jay Leno’s Garage YouTube channel that provides a sneak peek of the new 2014 Corvette Stingray.  It is evident from all the coverage that GM’s new Corvette has truly become the “darling” of the North American International Auto show with its redesigned good looks, unrivaled price point and striking interior.

Keeping with the auto show theme, Team RedlineNorth is headed to Detroit this weekend to check out the final two days of the North American International Auto show so be sure to look out for our coverage in the weeks to come.

North American International Auto Show

(Jan 2012) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

North American International Auto Show (image courtesy of NAIAS)

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will be held in Detroit, Michigan from January 12th to the 27th and the RedlineNorth Team will be there covering the events.

The NAIAS is the only auto show in the United States to be afforded the annual sanction of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, the Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world.

In anticipation of the 2013 edition of the show, RedlineNorth takes a look back at its history and how far it has come.

The first auto show was held in Detroit in 1907 at Beller’s Beer Garden at Riverside Park and was organized by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. That year there were 17 exhibitors presenting at what was then a regionally focused show.

Detroit Auto Show 1910 (image courtesy of Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Auto Show 1910 (image courtesy of Detroit Free Press)

Throughout the next few years the show gained in size and moved into increasingly larger venues to accommodate a greater number of vehicles on display as well as visitors.

Due to the outbreak of World War II the United States government outlawed all sales or delivery of new passenger vehicles and trucks. There were no shows from 1941 to 1953.

In 1965 the show moved to its current home at the Cobo Center where it occupies nearly 1 million square feet of floor space each year.

1965 Detroit Auto Show

1965 Detroit Auto Show (image courtesy of Car and Driver)

In 1989, the show was renamed the North American International Auto Show to reflect the desire to become a truly international event. That year 850 journalists, 60 of whom were international, attended the NAIAS. It was in 1989 that Lexus and Infiniti debuted as a brand at the show and the Dodge Viper was displayed as a concept car.

Cobo Center - Location of the 2013 NAIAS (image courtesy of the Cobo Center)

Cobo Center – Location of the 2013 NAIAS (image courtesy of the Cobo Center)

This year there will be over 50 vehicle debuts with the majority being worldwide unveilings. Vehicles debuting at the show include the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, the 2014 Lexus IS, the 2014 Cadillac ELR with a plug-in hybrid drive train and Bentley will officially debut the new GT Speed Convertible.

Last year over 770,000 people attended the show with just as many, if not more, expected this year. The show will also be covered by over 6,000 journalists from around the world and over 500 vehicles will be on display.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the show later on this month.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, North American International Auto Show, Cobo Center, Car and Driver