I didn't have time to actually conduct a panel but if I had, I'd bring in Peter DeLorenzo of AutoExtremist and Robert Farago of The Truth About Cars to join me in deliberating about this year's car show. Peter, in his usual rant style, takes on the show in a more traditional way while Robert covers the many ways in which the auto industry is overlooking modern technology. It's odd how much Peter and I agree on almost everything from the ugly front grill of the Chrysler Firepower to the blend into the crowd silver Mustang Convertible. Although I have no clue why he liked the Nissan Azeal. My final thoughts are below and this will be the end (hopefully) of our Detroit Auto Show coverage.
My first year under the lights of Cobo Hall I was shocked at how small the show floor was compared to Chicago?s show. Everything was so crammed that I think the automakers should rethink where they host their most important unveilings. Nothing against Detroit as a city, everyone was amazingly friendly no matter where I went. It?s just if you want to show off everything done right why not do it in a larger city, with more flights arriving, more hotels, more restaurants and a huge f***ing convention center that could actually fit all the presentations comfortably? And I?m not just saying that because I live in Chicago now.
My behind the scenes take on the show was shock at how few ?media? were actually working. Supposedly there were 6,000+ credentialed media. And the show floor looked like there were at least that many folks walking around. The media center, where we all worked and filed stories, fit a few hundred. And while it was full, it certainly was not overflowing. Most of the media were busy scarfing down free food, free booze and going absolutely apesh*t over press kits on the main floor. I have two bags full of press kits that I can?t wait to get rid of, they take up too much space in my cramped office as is, why would I want a leather-bound Z06 kit, just because it?ll be collectible one day (sorry Walt I didn?t snag one of these for you, too big a crowd).
Just for the record I took no free food ($5 for a sandwich didn?t kill me), paid for my hotel, paid for my gas etc. I did take the free water and OJ in the media room. That?s about it. Oh I did take a hot pretzel at the Jetta booth because it looked really good (it wasn?t). And I of course don?t drink alcohol when reporting. That?s just the way I do it. I?m not trying to sound holier than though, I just want our readers to know where we?re coming from.
As for how the show could be better (besides the move to Chicago for the majority of premieres) I think automakers need to make their new production vehicles more plentiful (like Honda and VW did) so the masses of journalists can see them and photograph them without having to ask others to get out of the way. We really don?t care about the 2005 model year of a car that has been out for awhile so make more room for the new ones. Don?t have the models (the good looking people the companies hire to tell public showgoers about the latest cars) try and talk it up with the journalists. Why are they there? For practice? They don?t know more than we do (although I overheard one ?journalist? asking what platform the Fusion was built on!) and I?m on tight blog deadlines. Although I was very polite regardless. I was really surprised that I was not approached by one PR person the entire time I was there. I don?t really care, I was too busy to really talk it up anyway, but if this is their biggest event shouldn?t the PR crews be trying to make contact? I think because so many of the ?media? there aren?t actually reporting anything the PR folks feel it?s a waste of their time to just approach a person they don?t know (especially since more than half probably didn?t speak English anyway).
In the end I was exhausted from covering the entire thing myself, with major assist from Walt back at home. But it was fulfilling to get our readers all that information as quickly as we did as unfiltered as it was. That?s Autoblog?s top priority in everything we do. Now how many weeks until Chicago? Hopefully I?ll be over this cold by then.