I have yet to make it to any of the car shows yet this year, but I've been keeping up with the highlights on my favorite automotive news and blog sites. I've got to say, I'm encouraged so far with what I've seen and read. I actually changed my mind about going to Detroit last year, for fear that it would be a disappointment. I think I'm glad I skipped it. This time around, I wish I had been able to make it.
Reports around the web suggest a much more exciting and hopeful atmosphere in 2010. For starters, I think it helped that there wasn't a mass exodus of manufacturer participation in the weeks leading up to this year's Detroit show. A year ago, that news began to put a lot of doubt in the minds of consumers and enthusiasts alike.
Stricken by economic turmoil and unpredictable oil prices, automakers around the globe struggled to nail down solid production and marketing strategies. Crashing sales charts cast a dismal shadow over basically all other car-related news. Here in the states, bailouts and bankruptcies proved just how bad things really were. A focus on higher fuel efficiency regulations looked as though it might strip all the fun from cars of the future.
Things have changed though. There has been good participation in the most recent round of car shows, and spirits are up. Japan, and even Detroit are proving that there is hope for a fun future in the automotive industry. There is still an emphasis on green, maybe more than ever, but it doesn't seem like such a boring concept any more. Success of cars like the Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger is a good sign that the world still has a place for performance machines.
Now that hybrids are old news, and plug-ins and EVs are making headlines, there have been efforts to make this segment fun and appealing. There is a lot of hype surrounding the introduction of the Chevy volt. Honda debuted the CR-Z this year, which aims to make it fun to drive a hybrid. There have even been rumors of hybrid versions of high performance cars, like Nissan's GT-R and The Lancer Evolution. If consumers are convinced that a hybrid doesn't have to be dull, it won't continue to be a sign of a suffering auto industry.
Car makers across the board have definitely suffered major financial blows in the last year or so, but things seem to be stabilizing. At the least, things aren't getting drastically worse. The damage has been done in the form of layoffs and plant shut-downs, but the dust seems to have settled. That's not to say that the last of the layoffs have been done. The point is that the public should be seeing more signs of hope, and that's what is needed to bring sales back up. Although the economic crisis has been devastating to many Americans, maybe a shake-up like this was needed. The corporate re-organizations may have been what the industry needed to achieve another decade of success and growth.
I'm glad to see a positive atmosphere returning to the automotive community. Excitement among consumers will encourage more sales. 2010 may be the year for a renewed passion for cars. I'm hopeful. Heck, I might even buy a new car before the end of the year.