Future Shock vs. Same Old Detroit Auto Show
IN January, the Motor City is usually more snow globe than crystal ball. But that never keeps thousands of auto executives, journalists, analysts and dealers from an annual rite: consulting the North American International Auto Show for the latest ideas on wheels — and trying to divine the industry’s future.
The 2007 show, which opened to the public yesterday at Cobo Center after a week of previews for the media and dealers, falls at the beginning of what may be a historic year, given that Toyota seems likely to overtake General Motors as the leader in global sales. It will also be a year in which Detroit’s struggling automakers will shut factories and lay off tens of thousands of employees.
As ever, there is a tempting yet often misadvised tendency to use Detroit’s show as a referendum on the industry, or to handicap the race among manufacturers. But while auto shows can be surprisingly unreliable guides to trends, each creates some striking snapshots and parallels.
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