Despite CES being the source of ever more car technology-related headlines, Detroit’s NAIAS is still the first major automotive show of the year, and for 2018 we’re still trying to understand the direction this year’s event might be taking.
Is it a pick-up show? New and highly competitive launches from Ford, Chevrolet and Ram would suggest so.
Is it an EV show? Ford’s massive boost to electric vehicle development – up from US$4.5bn to US$11bn – would suggest so. But it raises questions about which is more important – making vehicles that sell, namely trucks, or announcing EV investments, because that’s what car companies have to do to make themselves ready for a low-carbon future?
It has International in the name – but is it? Pick-ups, an all-new Jetta that’s not intended for European markets, an all-new Honda Insight that will only sell in Japan and select US states… there’s little of interest for the European market.
Here we highlight the key new model launches at the 2018 Detroit auto show. This article will be updated throughout the press days as the OEMs reveal their plans and new models.
BMW X2: Unveiled as a near-ready concept at the 2017 Paris show, this is the official motor show launch of the X2, although it had a low-key unveiling in November ahead of the LA Auto Show. Already in production at BMW’s Regensburg factory, sales of the X2 begin in March in Europe and the US. Look for the unusual positioning of BMW’s rondelle. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
Mercedes-Benz G-Class: Dieter Zetsche brought on a surprise guest for the launch of the all-new G-Class. During the unveiling, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Zetsche if there would be an electric version. “We’ve said we’ll electrify the entire line-up,” said Zetsche. “Watch this space.” LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
Ram 1500: The 1500 is the first all-new RAM truck since 2009, and it’s at the heart of a new Detroit pick-up truck battle, as Ram goes up against Chevy’s new Silverado and Ford’s all-new-for-North-America Ranger.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Ford Ranger: It’s back! Dropped from the North American range in 2011, the mid-size pickup makes its local market return at the Detroit show. Announced at Detroit 2017, it’s based on Ford’s global pickup, but adapted specifically for North America. It’ll be fascinating watching the impact of the Ranger on F-150 sales – there’s sure to be some cannibalisation when the Ranger comes the market next year. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
Chevrolet Silverado: The launch of the new Chevrolet Silverado coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the brand’s first delivery of trucks to customers in January 1918; it also sees GM enter a new pick-up battle with strong offerings from Ford and Ram. Mass reduction saw GM save 450 pounds thanks to a major engineering and lightweighting investment and the use of aluminium sheet metal on a steel frame (sound familiar?), and the range includes a 3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder diesel option. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
HONDA MOTOR COMPANY
Acura RDX Prototype: This near-ready SUV prototype is a clear indication of the next-generation Acura RDX. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
Honda Insight: It’s an old name, but the car is all-new. Officially, the vehicle on show at Detroit is a concept, and has not been fully certified by the EPA, but this third-generation Insight hybrid will be built at Honda’s Indiana plant and goes on sale mid-2018 initially in the US only. The vehicle seats five and features a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine.
HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY
Hyundai Veloster: Second-generation of the Hyundai Veloster nameplate.
KIA MOTOR COMPANY
Kia Forte: The third-generation Forte sedan, which takes styling cues from the Stinger. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Toyota Avalon: An all-new take on Toyota’s best-selling car in the US. LINK TO PRESS RELEASE
Lamborghini Urus: The Urus was unveiled at Lamborghini’s HQ in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, in December 2017. The world’s fastest SUV, expected to be behind a doubling of the OEM’s output, makes its motor show debut at Detroit 2018.
Volkswagen Jetta: All-new, seventh-generation model, but for “overseas markets only…there are no plans for a European version”. VW says it’s a global best-seller, with 17.5 million units produced making it one of the world’s most successful Volkswagen cars – although it was one of its weakest-selling models in Europe. Based on MQB, it’s longer, wider, and taller than the previous version, with a wheelbase that’s grown by 1.3 inches to 105.7. It’s also cheaper than its predecessor. Sales begin in Mexico in Q1 2018, and in the US market in Q2 2018. A version for China, the Sagitar, will be unveiled later in 2018.