A day at the Auto Show

When I was a kid, my parents hauled us off to the big auto show in Boston once a year, where my goal was to grab as much free stuff as possible, take the glitzy magazines home, cut out the cars, and play with them on the floor. Good times.

Toys are more expensive now. They’re actual cars. They’re things on four wheels designed to get us where we’re going. Any car will pretty much fit that bill, but, of course, cars are an extension of ourselves. We buy them to tell the world about ourselves, even though every car looks pretty much like every other car and, with a few exceptions, the rest of the world doesn’t really care about you and your car.

At Casa Collins, we survived the economic downtown, partly by stretching our cars beyond a decade. Alas, I drive an American car and so it’s rusting out, just as god and General Motors intended. So it’s been a long time since we’ve been car shopping and the Auto Show, now at the Minneapolis Convention Center, provided a good opportunity to see what’s out there. Also, who’s out there.

  • jon

    “Guy fact: Ninety percent of the people looking under the hood, don’t know what they’re looking at.”

    I’m betting 90% of the cars at the autoshow the only thing you could tell by looking under the hood is fluid levels. To actually see the engine you need to get under the plastic that is under the hood…

  • MrE85

    “This is the Leaf. It gets 112 mpg. They’re not selling that many, we presume. Perhaps it was because no one was around to explain why you should buy it.”
    I saw one in the parking lot at the local Target this weekend. Seen another at the YMCA lot recently. No, they are not for everyone. But isn’t cool to have the choice?

  • MrE85
    • joetron2030

      I’m guessing all of the Teslas I see around here were purchased through the nearest dealership in the Chicago area (I think). Though, I believe Tesla will deliver them here for the new owner.

      At one point, I recall reading/seeing (maybe on Tesla’s web site) that they were planning a service facility in Eden Prairie, too.

      Of all of the EVs on the market, that’s the one I would like to own.

      • MrE85

        You’re not alone. The Leaf and Tesla Model S are the top two selling EVs in America.

        The Eden Prairie service facility is up and running, so it seems:

        http://www.teslamotors.com/service/minneapolis

        • John

          Ah, that must be the thing with Tesla’s logo on it that I see on the west side of 169 – somewhere between 494 and 394.

          Loved the article above. The primary argument against Tesla doing direct sales appears to be “it’s scary that they want to do it differently than we do it now.” That’s a sure sign of a business that needs to be disrupted.

  • Greg W

    In response to the Lexus analog clock, BMW offers a sundial.

    • joetron2030

      Infiniti puts an analog clock on the dash, too. They’re all copying some Euro luxo brands.

    • joetron2030

      Also, Rolls Royce has a perch on the dash where one of your staff sits and reads the time to you.

  • Guest

    The leaf is actually the best selling electric car in the world. Perhaps rather than presuming you should be a journalist, and I don’t know, look into things you talk about.

    • Let me guess. You own an electric car.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OnpkDWbeJs

      • Guest

        No I don’t own an electric car. I just thought you ought to be aware that your statement wasn’t accurate. By all means make fun of the Leaf, I’m not a fan of the car.

        • You’re comparing the Leaf with all EV sales. I’m comparing the Leaf with auto sales. They don’t sell very many. That doens’t mean they won’t. That doesn’t mean the market isn’t growing. But the sales total is fairly insignificant. And they’d sell more if they’d stick a person next to the car to answer the obvious questions people have.

          There were 1425 Leafs sold nationwide in February.

          • Guest

            Yes, EV as a category isn’t significant compared to the total industry. But that’s sort of like saying Prius sales weren’t significant 10 years ago. It’s significant in that of this emerging category, the Leaf is currently the front-runner with sales of over 100,000 vehicles since launching in 2010.

          • And I can appreciate your enthusiasm for the industry, but that really has nothing to do with your original sarcastic assertion since I said nothing about their sales in the context of other EVs. They’re still a small player.

          • Guest

            Fair enough, the tone in my initial comment was unnecessary. I hope we can still be friends 😉

  • MrE85

    Sales of Nissan Leafs in Minnesota may be tiny, compared to traditional cars, but they have come far since this story was posted. (They are sold and leased here now)

    http://blogs.mprnews.org/cities/2011/10/why-only-one-leaf-owner-in-minnesota/

  • joetron2030

    “Not rated” under the five-star crash test is code for “death trap; don’t buy this car.”

    Which Mazda vehicle was this? It’s entirely possible that it hasn’t been through the IIHS tests yet but will soon.

    • One of the things i like about the Auto Show is to watch company agents do gymnastics to avoid saying, “i don’t know.”

      “Why doesn’t this have a front-collision safety rating?” I asked one product specialist (whom I presume works for the manufacturer rather than a dealer).

      “Well…” she stammered, “I think it might have something to do with the shortness between the bumper and the windshield.”

      “I see,” I said, trying to avoid blurting out in laughter.

      • joetron2030

        Uff da! Ha!

      • MrE85

        Having exhibited at the Auto Show for a couple of years, I got an inside look on how it operates, and frankly, it’s pretty odd.
        There are some real experts there who know their stuff. Others are temp workers, hired for the show and given a list of talking points. Throw in some volunteers, people from local dealerships, a soybean farmer and the PR guy from the Lung Association, and it is quite the information gumbo.
        Some of the vehicles in the exhibit travel from show to show. Others come from local dealers. Even the show organizers don’t know for sure what will be on display until the day before it opens. So it is not surprising not everyone has the right answers for every question.

  • MrE85

    While this year’s Green Room exhibit emphasizes electric vehicles and hybrids, last year the focus was biodiesel. Minnesota will increase the percentage of cleaner-burning biodiesel from 5% to 10% this summer, the first in the nation to do so. We go back to 5% in the winter to prevent gelling issues.

    http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/articles/8977/auto-shows-biodiesel-green-room-revs-up-minnesota-made-fuel

    I was planning on being at the show’s “media day” event today, but I have a sick dog who needs to see the vet. Priorities.

  • Dave

    I for one am eagerly awaiting the demise of the black-spoked wheel fad. For lack of a better word, it just screams DB car.

    • joetron2030

      “Database car”?

      j/k. The nerd in me couldn’t resist.