General Motors—poor, downhearted, desperate General Motors—appeared to be the most diverse nameplate at this year’s New York International Auto Show which drew to a close on Sunday. GM unveiled its 2008 Yukon Hybrid SUV and a new hybrid SUV/wagon crossover called the Acadia, an interesting name for such a vehicle tip-toeing on environmental issues when one considers Acadia also refers to the region of southern Louisiana that, you might recall, was destroyed nearly two years ago by a storm whose wrath many believe was intensified by the heating of ocean waters due to global warming. That sort of thing is downer. GM also debuted its teeny, hyper-fuel-efficient Groove, Trax and Beat automobiles which as it turned out attracted significantly less attention than the Hummer parked next door.
Past attendees to the New York International Auto Show agreed that this year was a bit of a letdown. And if you’ve never been to such an event, here’s what to expect: plenty of suburbanites mixed with plenty of angst-ridden young men traveling in packs; a few gays mainly crowding the Honda, Volvo and Volks Wagon displays; and a dozen or so nicely-dressed actors hired to give high-powered, infomercial-like lectures on featured automobiles. Ford seemed to be trying its luck with a new concept for the American consumer: a return to super-high horsepower muscle cars, like the Interceptor concept and the 2008 Mustang. Lexus had a similar idea suggesting that its concept L-FA sports car, featuring a V-10 engine and top speed of 200 miles per hour, is close to production. And, because this is New York, someone had to shout above the timid, embarrassed Lexus product specialist who was giving a spiel about the new car, “What’s the gas mileage?!”
“Good…um, we hope, he he.” she replied.
You’re standard non-hybrid SUVs, those crude bastions of everything that’s wrong with the world, were banished to the basement of the Javits Center, where there was a scent of hotdogs in the air and music from the Eagles resounded. No automaker was too keen to claim these bastard children of a bygone, unenlightened era (the early 2000s) and the drab basement of the Javits Center could have been any showroom anywhere in America. And back upstairs the U.S.’s number two automaker, Toyota, had a pretty toned-down spread of models ready for production. Nearly everything was a hybrid. Mazda—which is partially owned by Ford—unveiled two concept cars, the Nagare and the Hakaze the former a sleek and stylish sports car that looked like everything we expect from the Car of the Future, the latter an appealing crossover vehicle. Both implemented patterns of soft, wavy lines in their body frames which, one couldn’t help but think, resembled labia.
The Ford Airstream (concept) might have been the coolest minivan you’d ever seen. Red carpet from ceiling to floor and 1960s-inspired bucket front seats that swiveled 180 degrees. The cargo portion of the van was set up like a living room with sofa seating running along the driver’s side and a disco light rising from the floor. Volvo, another subsidy of Ford, didn’t have much new to say and seemed preoccupied with selling cars right then on the spot headed by a team of men so tall, so blond, so lithe and so Swedish one couldn’t resist giggling when they spoke.
Rumor surfaced Chinese automakers trying to nudge their way into the US market (and eventually take it over) may have set up shop here at the Javits Center but none could be found. Instead the showcase was dominated by Ford and GM, expectantly so, who both appeared just a little anxious.