2007 Jaguar C-XF ConceptEnlarge Photo
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2007 Chevrolet Volt ConceptBest concept vehicle: The Chevrolet Volt. Over the
years, I've seen General Motors roll out a variety of creative concepts, often
with supposedly super-clean powertrain technology. But with the Volt, it's
clear the automaker now sees this as a serious mission, and plug-in hybrid
technology could very well become a reality in the
2007 Chevrolet Volt ConceptEnlarge Photo
Best production vehicle: Jaguar C-XF. Now wait, I hear folks shrieking, that's a concept vehicle. Yeah, sort of, but it’s just a thinly-disguised version of the production Jaguar XF that will replace the aging S-Type and likely determine the long-term viability of a seriously troubled brand. How many other make-it-or-break-it cars were there at this year's Detroit Auto Show?
Most significant: I'm going to go with another GM car here, the Cadillac CTS. The second-generation sedan shows that Caddy's nascent renaissance isn't the proverbial flash-in-the-pan. The original CTS was visually striking, but still not quite up to the best-in-class. From its refined exterior to the lavish interior, it will be hard to ignore the '08.
2007: It's hard to imagine the
competitive situation getting any worse, but 2007 is likely to bring a battle
royale, especially if sales slump to the 16-million mark, like many predict.
That could prove especially troubling for
West Coast editor
2008 Dodge Grand CaravanBest concept: Jaguar C-XF. This concept alone
summoned me back into the hall a final time for yet another glimpse. If the
production car is nearly as beautiful as the concept, Jaguar will have a major
hit on its hands and could really start attracting affluent performance-minded
buyers, and younger ones, as the S-Type was supposed to. Let’s hope Ford doesn’t
hold on to the purse strings too tightly.
2008 Dodge Grand CaravanEnlarge Photo
vehicle: Two of
them: Toyota Tundra CrewMax, and the new Chrysler minivans. As the truck market
Most significant: Chevrolet Volt. People on the show floor were getting charged up over the Volt, a car that if produced would be revolutionary, with the potential to be the next ‘it car’ for green-conscious commuters. Although, as with the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid, the technology is contingent to improved battery technology and reduced cost, let’s hope GM builds on its electric car expertise, and builds the Volt.
Predictions for 2007: The auto industry will continue to see hard times, as the market seems to be in the middle of a major segment shift, not just an adjustment. The small-car market may not explode, but as gas prices inflame again come summer, full-size SUVs will see a lasting slump.