2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part XIII

January 10, 2006



2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)


Camaro Was Sent Back to Drawing Board


The Chevy Camaro concept was undoubtedly one of the stars of the 2006 NAIAS, but it could have looked very different. GM’s product boss Bob Lutz admitted the retro-styled 2+2 had been sent back to the drawing board after the original finished version had been seen by one highly influential viewer.


“We felt good about it but we didn’t feel great about it. Sometimes it needs someone else to look at it,” said Lutz. “Rick Wagoner said ‘that looks just like the old one and why would we want to do that? Let’s get some modern flair into it so we’re not repeating the past.’ Ed Welburn had been working with one group of designers so he put a second team on to it. And right away, the moment there was competition, things started to get a little more exciting. We have gone with a compendium of the two teams’ work that has the best elements of both cars.”



Next-Gen Caddy Gets Pedestrian Protection


A next-generation Cadillac will be first GM vehicle to get active pedestrian protection, product boss Bob Lutz has confirmed. He wouldn’t be drawn on what model will get the system – likely to the sort of pop-up hood seen on the Jaguar XK – but said: “Any sporting car with a low bonnet is going to struggle without active ped-pro.” That’s sparked speculation the vehicle in question would be the XLR roadster.


Lutz added that small cars are going to keep getting bigger until someone comes up with a low cost active pedestrian protection system. “B-segment cars are virtually turning into C-segment cars because the hoods have to be higher. That means the base of the windscreen has to be higher, which means the windscreen finishes higher, which means the whole car has to be bigger or it looks odd.” Lutz used the 2005 Renault Clio III – recently voted European Car of the Year – as a good example.



Caddy CTS: Mistakes Were Made


Cadillac designer Chip Thole has admitted the quality of the CTS cabin wasn’t up to scratch, and that the company "made mistakes" with the materials used.


Talking to a group of European journalists at a NAIAS breakfast briefing, he confirmed he had heard the criticisms, some of which had come from people in the room. But he said the BLS – the smaller sedan due for launch in the next few months across the Atlantic – wouldn’t suffer the same fate. “The fact that the BLS is a car lower down the product range doesn’t mean interior quality will be the same or worse,” said Thole. “It’s a Cadillac, therefore it’s a premium product, therefore people expect quality particularly in Europe. The Americans are demanding too because they see the same European interiors that you do.”


Thole’s admission was backed up separately by GM product boss Bob Lutz. “We made due note of it (the interior materials and quality) and future models will have more pleasing interiors,” he said.



Compass, Patriot or Both?


There was never an intention to build both the Jeep Compass and Patriot, it was an either/or exercise. That’s the admission from Chrysler Group’s executive vice president of global sales and marketing, Joe Eberhardt. “When we took both proposals to clinics, reaction to them was split right down the middle,” he said. “At that point we sat down and said ‘what do we do now?’” Eberhardt confessed designers could have taken the best bit of both cars to create a single product, but there was a danger of crafting something that appealed to no one. “The alternative was we could build both of them.”

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