1999 Detroit Show Preview

January 4, 1999

by Ted Grozier

Sunday was supposed to be a whirlwind day in Detroit, with the national and international media descending on the city like a plague of locusts. The North American International Auto Show, formerly the Detroit Auto Show, was slated to begin with a covey of concept cars and a crush of parties. But instead of being blanketed by the media, the Motor City was covered up with tons of white stuff, as Day One...Day Two...Day Three...of 1999 ushered in Old Man Winter instead.

Detroit's municipal airport was shut down until the worst of the blowing white stuff had passed, leaving hundreds of auto writers unable to book flights until....well, until media days are nearly over. Fortunately for Car Connection readers, we already had people in Detroit, and snow has little or no effect on cyberspace. So you all can look forward to receiving daily Special Reports from TCC, direct from Detroit, with information on each and every news conference. While some of our writers may arrive late, be assured that you won't miss a thing.

Unveiled Sunday afternoon were all the concept models being shown in Detroit by Ford, GM and Chrysler (recently merged with Daimler-Benz AG). Here is a look at what Chrysler has in store....with a full report on Ford, GM, and a lot more in Tuesday's edition of our NAIAS Special Report. So keep your browsers burning brightly and your "cyberdial" tuned right here — www.thecarconnection.com.


Dodge Power Wagon Concept Truck Technology and styling put a new twist on the famous 1946 Power Wagon namesake. True to its rugged and powerful heritage — note the awesome 780 foot-pounds of torque on tap — the new truck shows that such strength need not carry an environmental price. The 7.2-liter I-6 turbodiesel employs direct injection and a sulfur-free Syntroleum "designer fuel," which make it one of the cleanest and most efficient diesels yet. The concept's 35-inch tires and towering 77-inch height give it a demeanor that makes even the '46 look a tad feeble. But inside, leather and wood show that even a Power Wagon can be comfortable and refined.


Jeep Commander Concept SUV You can have your cake and eat it, too, with Commander, the world's only 4WD electric vehicle. This full-size, forward-styled SUV gets the equivalent of 25 mpg, thanks to advanced fuel cell technology. Combining hydrogen and oxygen electrochemically to generate electricity for the electric motor at each axle, the fuel cell emits only water as a byproduct, making it a true zero-emissions vehicle. Though the fuel cell is currently nonfunctional, the combined technologies of the Daimler-Chrysler merger could create a production vehicle as early as 2004.

Dodge Charger R/T Concept Car Want to blow the doors off the competition without the guilt of gas guzzling? Then the 325-hp CNG-powered Charger is your muscle car. The 4.7-liter supercharged V-8 can lay a patch of rubber at the local strip and still meet the stringent California ULEV clean-air standard. Since the high-pressure natural gas cylinders fit neatly in place of the stock gasoline tank, trunk space is not compromised. Aggressive styling includes functional air scoops; central mounted exhaust; and driver-oriented, racing-inspired interior.

Chrysler Citadel Concept Car Proving that efficient, high-tech hybrid electric vehicles need not be a compromise, the Citadel is a blend of luxury sedan and SUV. It delivers ample interior space, comes with a healthy 320-horsepower engine, yet gets 33 mpg on the highway. The "parallel-hybrid" configuration uses a V-6 to drive the rear axle and an electric motor to power the front wheels. Benefits include regenerative braking, all-wheel drive, and battery charging during cruising. Power sliding rear doors incorporate the B-pillar, providing accessibility. The elegant interior is wrapped in tan and green leather with art deco aluminum and chrome accents.

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