Detroit Auto Show Report
Detroit Looks Back
by Dale Malcom
It could be said that this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was a reflection of the times. Baby Boomers with disposable income can look for luxurious and sporty CUVs (crossover utility vehicles) like the 2007 Lincoln MKX and the 2007 Acura RDX. This audience is clearly one of the targets of Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet with the resurgence of our favorite “Pony” cars from the late ‘60s. Ford rolled its new Shelby GT500 Mustang complete with a 475-horsepower supercharged V-8, six-speed manual transmission and Brembo brakes. Not to be outdone, Dodge unveiled the Challenger Concept and Chevrolet premiered a Camaro Concept. These retro styled muscle cars are, as Yogi Berra once said, “deja vu all over again.” While GM and Dodge had not yet committed to build them, based on the excitement they generated at the show, it may be hard for these companies not to.
Recent gas price increases seem to have influenced vehicle design as well. Several car companies introduced smaller production or concept cars and CUVs like Honda’s Fit, Toyota’s Yaris, Jeep’s Compass and Buick’s Enclave. One very popular car was the 2007 Dodge Caliber. This compact crossover styled car is the replacement for the Dodge Neon and pricing for the Caliber starts at $600 less than the Neon it replaces. I think we will see quite a few of these on the road.
Current technology now allows efficient and reliable variable engine displacement to deactivate several cylinders when load demands allow, increasing gas mileage. This technology is being used more often and in larger vehicles as an interim step before converting to hybrid technology. The beginnings of hybrid technology started with the smaller cars like the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Civic. These vehicles were soon joined by the Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape sport utility hybrids. General Motors has now introduced several hybrids starting with some of their largest vehicles. New for the 2008 model year is the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon Two-Mode Hybrids the Saturn Vue Green Line. These vehicles join the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups in the General Motors lineup of fuel-efficient hybrids. Toyota added a hybrid version of the Camry to the already very popular Prius hybrid.
Several trends in auto glass were noted at this show. The first is it appears that encapsulated glass is becoming more and more limited to smaller specialty parts like vents, small quarter-lites and roof glass modules. Larger glass like windshields, large fixed quarter-lites and back-lites are using applied moldings or are going “bare edge” altogether. Bare edge glass requires more time and caution to remove as the painted areas of the body will show any scratches, it does mean there are fewer moldings to chase after to complete the job. With the increase in fixed, sliding and combination roof glass, it would be to a glass shop’s advantage to spend some time learning about these systems. Over 20 of the production and concept vehicles had roof glass and this trend is still growing. Changing an expensive roof module may turn out to be one of the easiest parts on a car to change and possibly the most profitable.
Dale Malcolm is technical manager, Dow Automotive Aftermarket, Dayton, Ohio.
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