The 2011 version of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) arrived at Cobo Center this week with an air of excitement and a look to the future. The media days are behind us, the industry and charity previews are this week, and the Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday, January 15th.
With 700 cars on the showroom floor there is a lot to see and do. Here are a few of my highlights.
Head downstairs and check out the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s “Smarter Living in Michigan” exhibit. It features Michigan-made innovation and clean energy in a town square environment. From batteries to wind, LED lights, and charging stations; it’s all about green, renewable, and sustainable energy.
While I was there, Governor Snyder had a quick press conference and walked the showroom floor. He stressed that innovation and entrepreneurship are what will make Michigan thrive, “innovation is the driver, not technology.” When asked how he likes his new job he pointed out that he’s only been at it for a few days but that, “it’s a good job.”
Also in the Smarter Living area is the Ride and Drive Track featuring electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. For the press days, we were allowed to drive the cars ourselves around the mini-track. I took the electric Smart Car for a spin. It’s perfect for Europe and cities like New York and Chicago but I’d give it a pass here in Detroit. It gets about 80 miles on a full charge and there is distinctive whirring noise.
Ford and Chevy both had fun, interactive displays and are a must see. At the Ford display you can race slot cars around a track and test your driving skills on a virtual road course on the Fiesta Rally Simulator.
Over at Chevy, they were also playing virtual driving games. The coolest interactive display was the Camaro Convertible photo op. They encourage you to jump while they snap your photo and you can instantly share with Twitter and Facebook or send it as an email or text. Take a look at my Camaro photo.
If you’re into design the College for Creative Studies and the Michelin display are both very creative and worth a look.
Tips for surviving NAIAS & things to do:
- Check your coat or leave it in the car! It gets hot under the lights.
- Bring cash if you plan to grab a snack or check your coat.
- Take the People Mover, it’s only 50 cents.
- If you’re taking tons of photos, first shoot one of the information placard or the back end of the vehicle. This way you won’t confuse the vehicles when going through them later.
- Niki’s Pizza in Greektown is offering 20% your food bill until January 24th. Just show your NAIAS ticket or badge.
- Auto Show Bar Tour from Inside Detroit. Check out a few bars with a local and special drink prices.
- 2011 AutoWeek Design Forum is happening on Thursday, January 13th.
More tips for the Auto Show from last year.
Now for the car eye candy!