The 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit opens this week for media (later in the week for the public), and energy levels and excitement are as high as they've been in several years. The big news before the show even opened was that the new seventh-generation 2014 C7 Corvette was to get the royal treatment and hog most of the show's spotlight. Rightly so, since much of the new Corvette engine technology can be found in the recently revealed 2014 Chevy Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra. But seeing the Corvette isn't the only bit of news here this morning.
Surprising a host of onlookers (including me), the 49 U.S. and Canadian journalists that sit on the North American Truck/Utility of the Year panel voted the new Ram 1500 the winner for 2013. The two other competitors included the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Mazda CX-5. According to several jurors on the panel, the Ram was the hands-down winner. Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Truck, was there to accept the award and brave an ocean cameras. Not long after the award presentation, at the first manufacturer press conference of the day (Jeep's), Diaz sat next to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and gave him a big hug of congratulations and thanks.
Ford will be showing several more versions of its Transit vans at the 2013 Detroit auto show, but if you were driving around town over the weekend, you'd have noticed several 10-story banners promoting the new vans right across the street from the convention center. The Transit vans will be built at the Claycomo Plant in Kansas City, Mo., and should be production-ready by the end of the year (the plant is being redesigned now). Of note, the new commercial and passenger vans use a heavy-duty unibody that must adhere to all severe-duty durability testing that all other Ford trucks have to meet.
Our friends at Via Motors have three separate displays at NAIAS; one downstairs next to the Media Center, one at the Cobo Center's entrance and another press conference booth sandwiched in between Lincoln and Michelin. For those that may not remember, Via Motors offers three hybrid-electric trucks based off three current-gen Chevrolet platforms (Silverado pickup truck, Suburban SUV and Express van) that can get in excess of 100 mpg. We're also told they will have an 800-horsepower concept truck that should be interesting, as well. More to come.
What would a huge public show be without some kind of protest going on outside during the event? A vocal group of union workers (who we're told includes actor Danny Glover) were protesting some of the actions and proposed negotiating positions of GM (notice the automaker's headquarters in the background). The protesters had the benefit of good weather and an open public sidewalk area right across the street from the convention center. When viewing and listening to some of the protesters, we also had the chance to see several of the people-movers through downtown that are showing off a lifesize 2014 Chevy Silverado towing a horse trailer.