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Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

Vol. 2 No. 4

From Hybrid to Retro: LA and Detroit Show the Trends Up Close

The place I really wanted to be last week was the North American Auto Show in Detroit. It seems like just about everyone I know either went to the press days, January 8-10, or the regular show, January 14-22. Had to spend the first part of last week in Philly, and the last part in Ft. Lauderdale, and this week in Atlanta and Myrtle Beach, which, ordinarily, wouldn’t be half bad, except I missed both the Los Angeles Car Show and the Detroit shows this year.

The auto shows catch you up on all the latest news trends. GM price cuts, their latest attempt at “value pricing” (you can guess what that does to used car values, at least in the short term…), the highly coveted “flex-fuel” vehicles, (even Detroit is rushing to produce them although they really don’t do much to save fuel or the environment, but it’s real politically correct to be seen driving one these days – just look at the demand in southern CA). Also, the sale of “Crossover” vehicles is expected to outdistance SUV sales for the first time this year (don’t dare call them “station wagons,” although if somehow the latest crop had been time warped back into the ‘70’s’ I guarantee you that’s what the world would have called them)…

Probably the single most fun reason to go for me, however, would have been to get an up-close and personal look at the crop of ‘60’s’ and ‘70’s vintage knock-off “muscle cars,” presented both in concept and production form. I guess you could say the latest retro trend first cropped up in Chrysler’s PT Cruiser a few years back, but it was the success of Ford’s redesigned Mustang last year that really lit the fire for ‘70’s “muscle.” I really did want to see the long anticipated Dodge Charger concept, as apparently it looks very much like the 1970 version (which, marking my age here), I do remember rolling around in its original form. Now Chrysler says it is a concept only and has no plans to produce the vehicle, but my guess is if it becomes as popular as it could be, something similar will spring up on the planning boards soon. GM is introducing a similar retro concept Camaro as well. So there’s the latest contrast in cool – while being seen in a hybrid is the essence of “in,” retro muscle cars, not well known for full economy, may mark the next “must be seen in” vehicle…go figure. I personally can’t wait until Chrysler brings back my old favorite, the Barracuda…

For anyone else who missed these shows as well, here’s a list of the concept and production vehicles that made their debut at each of the shows:

Los Angeles Auto Show
Concept Vehicles - Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower
Volkswagen three-wheeler

Production Vehicles - 2007 Chevrolet Suburban
2007 Chevrolet Aveo
2007 GMC Yukon XL
2007 Mazda CX-7 crossover
2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP
2007 Toyota Yaris

Detroit Auto Show
Concept Vehicles - Acura RDX crossover
ASC Cosmos
ASC TriLite
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid
Dodge Challenger
Hyundai HCD-9 Talus
Kia Soul
Mazda Kabura
Mini Traveller
Mitsubishi Concept-CT MIEV
Nissan Urge convertible
Volvo C30 hatchback

Production Vehicles - 2006 Audi S6
2007 BMW Z4 roadster
2008 Buick Enclave
2007 Escalade ESV, EXT
2007 Chrysler Aspen
2007 Dodge Caliber
2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500
2007 Honda Fit
2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
2007 Jaguar XK convertible
2007 Jeep Wrangler
2007 Jeep Compass
2007 Lexus LS-460
2007 Lincoln MKX
2007 Mercedes Benz GL SUV
2007 Mistubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Nissan Sentra
2007 Nissan Versa
2007 Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid
2007 Toyota Camry

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