As the Detroit Auto Show comes to an end, here's a look at what the first major car show of 2009 showcased, and what's coming. In addition, if you're excited about new cars but weren't able to make it to Detroit, we list the schedule for the rest of the country below.
A Low-Key Approach
Because of the weak economy, and especially the government bailout of the Big Three American auto companies, this year's show featured fewer flashy concept cars and far more cars actually planned for production. Although many people love car shows because of the futuristic and far-out designs on display, companies don't want to be perceived as wasteful or extravagant, particularly since they recently received taxpayer money. Beyond not wanting to appear lavish, many car companies sought to save money by choosing not to attend the show at all—including big names like Porsche, Ferrari, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. In total, the 2009 Detroit show had the most companies choosing not to return in its history.
Efficient Cars in the Spotlight
Many car companies are facing harsh criticism for failing to anticipate the market's demand for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, which led to a focus on hybrids, electric cars, and vehicles touting their sensitivity to the environment. Besides the upcoming hybrid and electric cars, there are additional fuel-efficient options such as the 2010 Audi A3 and 2009 Vokswagen Jetta SportWagen, both TDI sports cars running on diesel. However, some cars, like the 2010 Ford Taurus, have not substantially changed their approach or design, because as gas prices continue to fluctuate, it's hard to justify spending more money on a car that may not save drivers much, especially in this economy.
Hybrids on Display
Perhaps the most exciting new hybrid car introduced at the Detroit show is the 2010 Honda Insight. Not only does it represent a return of the first hybrid in the United States, it's also slated to be the least expensive hybrid available, at a projected $18,000–20,000. Other hybrids included the updated 2010 Toyota Prius and the new 2010 Ford Fusion, which boasts better mpg than the Toyota Camry Hybrid, its intended competitor.
Plug-in and Electric Cars are Coming
Besides the already-announced news of the Chevy Volt plug-in and the plug-in version of the Prius, there were prototype and concept versions of plug-in hybrids and electric cars from many manufacturers. American companies were well represented, with the Jeep Patriot and Wrangler plug-in hybrids, the Chrysler Town and Country plug-in hybrid, Tesla Roadster, and prototypes from Ford. In addition, Chinese car companies got exhibition space on the main floor for the first time ever this year, with automaker BYD showcasing some of its plug-in hybrids.
Schedule of Local Shows
So, when will you get a chance to see new cars or future ideas in person? These shows are scheduled from now through the spring. For a full list of major and regional auto shows, see MSN Auto's 2009 Auto Show Calendar.
January 24–February 1: Houston Auto Show, Houston, TX.
January 31–February 8: Philadelphia International Auto Show, Philadelphia, PA.
February 4–8: Washington Auto Show, Washington, D.C.
February 13–22: Chicago Auto Show, Chicago, IL.
February 28–March 8: Cleveland Auto Show, Cleveland, OH.
April 10–19: New York International Auto Show, New York, NY.
Compare Insurance Rates Before You Buy
Since no one actually buys a car at the Auto Show, there's always time to compare rates. Get a few quotes for the kind of car you want, so that you can factor that amount into the price of the car. It could make the difference between deciding to add improvements to your current car and buying a new one.
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