Electric cars might be the future, but you wouldn’t know that from the 2019 Detroit auto show.
Old-fashioned horsepower was in vogue during the show’s media days this week, ahead of the public opening. Sports car and a muscle car stole the limelight. Not lacking in swagger, one was even lowered from the ceiling onto the stage.
Meanwhile, one of the only electric cars debuting at the show petered out before it even reached the stage.
Among the missing this year: concept vehicles, the prototypes that normally get floated to the press and public to gauge reaction. Only a few made appearances. Most automakers showed off vehicles that were production-ready and headed for showrooms.
And if you’re a fan of cold and cloudy weather at the auto show, soak it in now. It’s the last winter gathering. The event’s organizers are breaking with history and moving the next one to June 2020.
Here’s what caught our attention this year:
3 highs from the show:
Toyota Supra is revived: Toyota delivered one of the show’s most buzzworthy moments: the long-awaited return of the Supra sports car.
The Supra, which was killed more than two decades ago, is returning to U.S. dealerships this summer.
While enthusiasts had anticipated its return for years, the 2020 Supra’s introduction set social media ablaze. It was trending on Twitter soon afterward.
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World’s leading auto CEOs make appearances: Despite concerns about the show’s diminished impact this year, it continues to resonate for top executives. The CEOs of the world’s three largest automakers made appearances: Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda and General Motors’ Mary Barra. The CEOs of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. were also there.
That’s a lot of power under one roof, amounting to access for journalists that rival U.S. auto shows haven’t historically offered.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is lowered onto the stage: Journalists got a good view of this muscle car’s 5-inch-wide exhaust pipes as it was lowered from the ceiling onto the stage at the auto show.
The 2020 Shelby GT500 is expected to get more than 700 horsepower from its 5.2-liter-, 8-cylinder engine. That’s quite the growl.
3 lows of the 2019 Detroit auto show
Infiniti botches concept car debut: Nissan luxury brand Infiniti was all set to wow the media with the debut of its QX Inspiration electric concept SUV. And then something went wrong.
The vehicle stalled and didn’t make it to the stage in time for the press conference. Ouch.
Automakers missing in action: While the presence of major CEOs was good for the show, the absence of several major automakers was impossible to miss. German luxury brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi skipped the show, which translated into less buzz.
The auto show is hoping to reinvigorate interest by moving to June next year, when the weather will be warmer and the it won’t have to compete with January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for media and announcements. But will the new timing work out for automakers that like to debut new vehicles earlier in the year? That question remains unanswered.
Ford deal disappoints investors: After weeks of talk about a budding alliance, Ford and Volkswagen announced initial details of their partnership on Tuesday morning. Ford will help VW with pickups, while VW will build a van for Ford. They may also collaborate on electric cars.
Analysts and media quickly suggested that VW appears to have the upper hand in the alliance since Ford’s pickup franchise is extremely valuable.
The alliance also disappointed Ford investors, who drove the company’s shares down more than 8 percent in the two full trading days following the deal.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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