By basic measures then, Detroit '15 was a smashing success. (If you're within striking distance of the Motor City, I highly recommend that you buy a ticket and see for yourself.)
With big names like Ford GT, NSX, Titan, Tacoma and Volt rolling onto stages this year, its no wonder that our eyeballs were glued to the coverage. But the diversity of products (along with my recent breakdown of the cars I drove in 2014) had me wondering what the "average" Detroit debut car looked like this year.
To get some statistical idea of what the show produced this year, I fired up Excel and started to chart the facts and figures relayed by dozens of press releases.
As you might guess, the results left huge gaps in the data set. Mixing concept car info with just-announced production vehicles means that powertrain details like power and torque can be sketchy, while really sensitive info like pricing and fuel economy ratings are almost non-existent. What's more, my rough calculations only took into account debuting products, not the entire roster of every company's show stand (which often includes existing production models).
In short, I was hunting for trends more than rigorous science. (Hey, I'm an English major, back off.)
All of those caveats listed then, what did the spec sheet Detroit's average debut vehicle look like? Here's a list of figures (all "where applicable"):
- Average horsepower: 331
- Average pound-feet of torque: 349
- Average liters of displacement: 3.29
- Average number of cylinders: 5.9
- Average number of transmission gears: 7.1
- Average 0-60 MPH time in seconds: 5.6
- Engine aspiration: 68% turbocharged, 24% naturally aspirated, 5% supercharged, 3% bi-charged
- Driven wheels: 63% all-wheel drive available, 43% rear-wheel drive available, 18% front-wheel drive available, 25% options available
- Fuel: 72% gasoline, 14% hybrid, 7% diesel, 7% electric
Just a glance at those numbers and, if you're like me, you'll recognize a lot of trends that have hit the market in the last few years. A renewed interest in powerful, efficient and increasingly smaller-displacement gas engines aided by turbocharging and advanced transmissions.
All-wheel-drive cars seem to be stealing from the market share of both front- and rear-drive cars as well, and are incrementally responsible for quicker acceleration times, too. Bear in mind, of course, that most of the 0-60 times published at an auto show are for high-performance-type vehicles, so that 5.6-second figure is overly aggressive even for a show with a lot of fast whips.
And, just for kicks, I tallied up numbers for most popular paint colors, too. Silver was the most common hue on show stands this year, being found on some 24 percent of the debuts we covered. Blue was a close second – thanks in large part to Ford's use of the achingly hip Liquid Blue on all of its performance products – netting 21 percent. Red and white tied at 16 percent apiece, with unphotogenic black coming up next at eight percent. Yellow, green and orange tones made up the wild-child backmarkers, with five percent each.
Do I expect I'll drive a lot of 330-hp, 350-lb-ft turbo-V6-powered, 7-speed, silver cars in 2015? Not exactly... though that doesn't sound like a bad afternoon. But I do think the Detroit figures, inexact though they might be, color a forecast for the industry that's trending in an exciting way. Here's to the future.