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january 23, 2012
Detroit Auto Show Hits the Spot
As Public Adapts to New Styles
by Gerald Scott
 For an entire year, we’re told by both the auto industry in Detroit and politicos in Washington, D.C., that “the public” desperately wants smaller and more fuel-efficient cars on the road.
 Sohowcomesit, so, how comes it, that when the public assembles for the annual Detroit auto show at Cobo, the stands with high-horsepower cars like Corvette and Camaro and Mustang  are  all  mobbed . . . and the small cars are somewhat deserted?
 Go figure.
 But the case in point is made. Visiting the Detroit auto show on Martin Luther King Day last week, for example, were Mike Martinez, his daughters, Kirsten and Chelsea, and their friend, Zach McAuley.
 They were so enraptured with the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, a $60,000 car, that they took turns taking each other’s photos with a digital camera both inside and outside of the car alike.
 Said McAuley, “I like the speakers behind the seats . . . plus you push buttons (in lieu of door handles) to get out.”
 Added Chelsea Martinez, speaking of the exterior design, “The car just flows,” she beamed.
 Indeed, they all agreed that the Corvette convertible is a gorgeous car. Still, it begs the question as to why the V8 sports cars get mobbed at the car show and gas sippers get only pleasing nods. Maybe it’s all in the marketing.
 In the meantime, the public kicked the tires at the 2012 North American International Auto Show and the general consensus is that everything is somehow more upbeat and brighter this year, that the good vibe that kicked off with press week continued through the 10-day public run.
 The Jan. 14 opening day was the strongest in five years with 92,106 visitors.
 All said, show organizers do a good job of packing more oomph into the public days, including an enhanced Education Day on Jan. 18 and an expanded photo contest for amateur car photographers.
 “Nearly every display here at NAIAS features an interactive family-oriented element," said Bill Perkins, chairman, NAIAS 2012.
 “The more than 500 vehicles are fantastic to look at and sit in, and with today’s emphasis on connectivity and advanced technology, the exhibits take the show to the extreme. I’ve said all along, this show will educate, astonish and entertain. And it’s doing just that.”
 New special events have been added, including the main floor NAIAS Parade of Cars and Stars, which has been pleasing thousands of onlookers twice daily.
 Led around the inner loop of the show floor by police motorcycles with flashing lights and sirens, three luxury vehicles – an Aston Martin, Bentley and Chevrolet Corvette – drive slowly around the show as thousands of digital cameras flash. Several characters from The Parade Company follow along, while celebrities (Thomas Hearns, and Miss Michigan USA Kristen Danyal) waved to the crowds Sunday of opening weekend.
 At the Cadillac pavilion, UAW members joined their GM colleagues in promoting and explaining the technology on the new cars.
 Thomas Nothoff of the UAW-GM Quality Network, based at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, explained that their members will often be on the show floor for five or six different national auto shows, including NAIAS at Cobo.
 He said it was a point of pride for UAW members to talk to the public about how the cars are built, what technology is being used and other factors that go into today’s modern automobile.
 All in all, the public seemed pleased with what they saw on the Cobo floor after all.
Visiting the Detroit auto show from Toledo are, from left, Mike Martinez, Kirsten Martinez, Chelsea Martinez and Zach McAuley.
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