With trends for 2017 sales predicted to be sluggish when compared to the 2016 sales record, we've noticed that the normally enthusiastic auto industry rumor mill is dragging as well. We've heard little from our regular marketing and public relations friends about what's coming to the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit beyond the normal model refreshes and new trim package debuts. Nevertheless, here's what we're expecting:
- There will at least one big surprise in the pickup truck powertrain arena. With looming federal corporate average fuel economy standards set to bump up in 2018 and 2025, you can bet the big truckmakers are going to push their engineers to come up with creative solutions.
- Hyundai and Kia, thought to be the next manufacturers to jump into the mid-size market, are likely second-guessing their earlier enthusiasm. From what we hear, the project (projects?) could be on hold.
- At a time when jumping into a cautious market with a new truck would be quite costly, we'd expect several of the truckmakers to get more creative with trim packages. We're hoping Toyota follows Ram's lead in terms of offering special-edition packages.
- Expect SUVs to continue to be strong players on the auto show circuit, with more styles and variations on the same mid-size and full-size platforms.
Following media, auto-industry and charity previews Monday through Jan. 13, the NAIAS will open to the public Jan. 14-22 at Detroit's Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Jan. 22, when it will close at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13 for adults, and $7 for seniors age 65 or older and children age 7 to 12; kids age 6 or younger get in free with a parent or guardian. Group discounts of $9 per ticket for parties of 30 or more are also available for purchase through Jan. 13. For more info, go to naias.com.