We spent a lot of time walking through the North American International Auto Show in Detroit searching for clever and new solutions for pickup trucks, but found only a few. Instead, here are a handful of photos of things that caught our eye. We'll have a few more photo galleries in the near future of other vehicles along with observations from the show floor. Enjoy.
Ford not only had a significantly new booth space that reproduced a portion of the 2015 F-150 production line (with a real chassis and riveting computer-controlled machine arms), but it also had a completely separate ballroom off the main convention show floor where Ford offered the media candy, free WiFi and access to key executives.
We always make a point to find the display from the College for Creative Studies. The school typically assigns a project to select students who show off their future automotive designs at the show. We especially liked this design of a future Honda product (we'll call it a pickup) from Yu-Chen Chen and Brett Tippman. Could this be the next Ridgeline?
Hiding in Plain Sight
One of our favorite stories connected to the debut of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 was the testing the engineering team conducted by teaming up with longtime Ford racer Greg Foutz. He took an aluminum-bodied 2014 F-150 equipped with the all-new 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine and finished the punishingly brutal Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. He drove the prototype truck to collect valuable testing and durability data for Ford; throughout the event everyone could see and hear (the little V-6 doesn't make much noise) everything the pickup did.
Chrysler/Fiat has deep roots in the world of commercial farming and construction equipment through its partnership with the Case IH and Case CE heavy-duty equipment companies. We first saw this Case Ram HD at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show and think it looks even better alongside other custom vehicles. No one is saying that Mopar will start offering a Case CE equipment package, but the partnership seems like a natural. We'll keep our fingers crossed for the Mopar dozer, forklift or skid steer.
Maybe it's just a guy thing, but it's easiest for us to understand concepts and principles through visual images. This display from GMC was one of the best we've seen in a long while; it simply shows what's new and interesting about the Sierra. Dozens of clear images pasted over the surface of a new Sierra depict all the new technology underneath. The information (and corresponding benefit) is communicated quickly and simply.
Providing quite a show late in the second media day in Detroit, Via Motors (a small alternative powertrain company making full-size pickups, vans and SUVs) had an acrobat about 40 feet off the show floor flipping, twirling and contorting from just two pieces of curtain cloth. Via announced it had taken the first of many orders from a Best Western hotel owner in Canada, as well as received an $80 million commitment from a privately funded company that wants to provide electric charging stations across North America. Via even dropped a sizable down payment on the purchase of 100 vehicles. Electric vans and pickups are on the way.
The only place in the entire Ford booth that an SVT Raptor could be seen was on a stand where a graphic artist was posted to take a picture of any curious attendees and then proceed to drop in a desert scape, moonscape or silly objects (umbrellas, beach balls, helicopters, etc.) in the foreground and background. We tossed a magnet on the front fenders and it stuck.
Ramps on the Rack
One of the best little pieces of clever storage we saw was on an F-150 SuperCrew Lariat FX4 Sport. The rack holders clip in place via the BoxLink clips and allow the optional motorcycle/snowmobile/lawn mower ramps to be stored on either side of the bed. You can even lock them up for added security. The sturdy, lightweight ramps detach easily and clip to the back of the tailgate, which has a lip clip to make sure it doesn't slip off the tailgate when removing gear.
To see more photos from our time at the 2014 NAIAS, check out our Facebook page.