Once again automakers rolled out some eye candy at the annual North American International (Detroit) Auto Show. And once again it leaves many of us wondering which of the vehicles on display will actually make it into production, will they be affordable and are they really practical. Inspired by this, I am rolling out a list of 10 things to watch in 2010.
• The first item on my 10for’10 list is the auto industry as a whole. I certainly hope for everyone’s sake that the predictions of sales increases comes true, and not just for a month or two. This would be a positive signal that consumer confidence is returned and with it, jobs and income. And tax revenue. As they say, all things are connected and what comes around, goes around. Some automakers have already stated they plan production increases, I guess following that “Build it and they will come” strategy.
• Next on the list to watch this year is Chrysler. While they did not have a lot to offer at the Detroit show, what was there should be of interest. On one hand domestic product of theirs is just getting planned minor warmups for the foreseeable future while on the other hand a new vehicle they did display was a rebadged Lancia sedan-hatchback/wagon designed to gauge interest in such a product for the future of the Detroit brand with an Italian corporate address.
• Ford certainly was one of the few bright spots for 2009 if there was any, and 2010 should be no different for them. They still don’t owe the taxpayers any dough – although they do have a hefty banknote which, in turn, may actually relate to our pockets if any of the banks they owe are the ones the Obama administration chose to bail out.
• Staying at the big blue oval, new product will be rolling off assembly lines soon in the form of a Fiesta for us, a new heavy duty truck with Ford’s first inhouse diesel powertrain and, the global Ford Focus we have been screaming for. I guess good things are (finally) coming to those who wait.
• Plugin hybrids. Been hearing about them for a couple of years now and automakers, including those from China and South Korea, are promising this will be the year they land on U.S. soil, perhaps alongside a couple of new electric models. The key to keeping them environmentally sound is to use energy reserves and not have them taxing the grid during peak hours. Thing is, how many of us drive home from work and then need to run back out in a while on errands or activities, all of which are usually during peak hours. I don’t know about you but I want my car fully charged and ready to go, especially in case of emergencies, so plugging in as soon as I get home is a must.
• Kudos to Chevy for announcing they are bringing a new, finally attractive, Aveo model along with production model movie stars. These vehicles may make buyers forget all about Geo and Daewoo and maybe even (gasp) Cobalt.
• While still at General Motors let us not forget about Cadillac who is really coming into their own of late. The CTS line has spawned a few spinoff derivatives already with the much ballyhooed coupe coming soon and a supercharged V coupe soon after. And let us not forget they are teasing us with the new flagship of the lineup, the promised XTS sedan set to replace both current DTS and STS models.
• Back to Ford again, sorry. Mustang is getting its own posting here as the automaker is finally bringing muscle, real muscle, back to their musclecar without having someone else’s last name on the trunklid. The 5.0-liter engine is coming back and Ford is promising to keep up with the Jones’ by giving their six a good kick in the pants as well. And yes, Shelby has promised a new GT350 for you aficionados.
• Technology as a whole is coming front and center this year. Some automakers are even going so far as to removing traditional knobs from dashboards in favor of touch screen functionality (we’re looking at you 2011 Lincoln MKX). Others are offering mobile wi-fi, I just hope my nephews don’t try playing video games online against each other and their friends while driving to school.
• And finally, yes, Chevy Volt. The vehicle that has spawned so many promised copycats. The vehicle that has electric companies drooling. The vehicle that has given rise to the battery industry. The vehicle that is not going away and should finally, maybe, hopefully make its way into consumers hands sometime in 2010.