9:35AM - Whew, Chrysler sure throws a good party. Now it's time to get busy again. Honda's Ridgeline reveal is scheduled for 11:30AM, so we've got our work cut out for us early today. Ryan tells me ice pellets have a 60% chance of falling tomorrow. That'll make for dandy fun at the airport when we're trying to get out of here. jp
2:15PM - We've been hanging out at the Honda booth after the unveiling of the new Ridgeline. This truck is really innovative and should cause all other truck manufacturers to take their designs in new directions. The design and multi-functionality of the bed alone is a feature that had the media gasping as it was demonstrated to us by the designers. Check our news items on the Ridgeline for more info. We were fortunate enough to have the Large Project Leader for the Ridgeline do a comprehensive video demonstration of virtually all the interior and exterior features. Once we get it edited, there will be some exceptional footage for you to check out.
We haven't had much time to surf around the show, but once we're done here, we'll be on the floor both in search of eye-catching new models and food -- I'm starving! rl
2:30PM - Forget about coalmining and reactor scrubbing, automotive photographer/videographer has to be one of the world's most dangerous professions, particularly when it comes to jockeying for position at a press conference. Anyhow, Honda's Ridgeline seemed to make a pretty big splash. It seems to be a pretty exceptional vehicle in terms of innovation and truly useful features. Honda is very serious about building it to be tough as well, with one of the strongest beds in the market. The hidden trunk under the bed of the floor is sheer genius, and can securely hold quite a bit of gear. Or, as one of the designers pointed out, you could fill it with ice and a very large quantity of your favorite canned beverages. Speaking of beverages, there must be a booth around here serving beer, so off I go... Kidding aside, we've been so wrapped around the axle with the Ridgeline stuff, we haven't had time to eat or shoot pics of much of anything else, so we have to go do that now.jp
6:05 PM EST - I love free beer. The smart and GM booths had it all over the Mini booth's smoothies (which were also pretty tasty) with free imports and domestics. It's funny to sit within a couple of feet of TV production teams to watch them work and see how much work actually goes into it. In this case, the ESPN ladies were working on a piece on "Cars and Dating" in an interview with smart's executive VP here in North America. Jeff and I ate pizza, dessert, and sipped beer after being on our feet for hours. I had a chance to ask a smart executive about the production possibilities of the V-6, twin-turbo smart roadster I saw and he said there was no way. Too bad...the power to weight ratio is the same as a new Carrera 4S.
The media seems to be positively buzzing about the Ridgeline and, more specifically, the built-in trunk in the bed. I have to admit, it is a killer idea. Who will copy it first? There are some other truly innovative and subtle details on the car, such as fins on the sideview mirrors that were derived from F1 driver helmets and a miniscule spoiler at the rear of the roof to eliminate buffeting with the rear window open and direct rain away when driving. Innovative thinking, to say the least, and a big thumbs up to the designers for thinking out of the box.
Other interesting things... The Ferrari Superamerica has a trick rotating roof. They even employed a (ahem) sexy blonde to sit in the driver's seat all day just to demonstrate the roof's operation (including variable tint levels) on request. She seemed bored; I asked for a demo and she said "I've been doing this all day!" (Clearly a rough job...) The Saturn Sky is a slick looking roadster that should be a mega-hit. With a price point of $20-25K and the specs to put it up there with other sporting roadsters, it will be an interesting addition to the roadster market. The specs include ~2800 lbs., 0.9g skidpad, 2.4L, ~160 ft/lbs/170HP, RWD, and a sexy shell to match. Although essentially a fraternal twin to the Pontiac Solstice, they should hit different demographics with the different styles and retuned dynamics.
Toyota's new Avalon is a better, but still ho-hum design. The interior is starting to look like a BMW. Speaking of those crazy Bavarians, Mini's Cooper S has a trick new 6-speed SMG gearbox option that should be a hit since it's essentially a trickle-down from the BMW SMG models. Oh, and after inspecting yesterday's photos of the Nissan Azeal, it looks like a front driver. That's very disappointing -- I was hoping for something like a Silvia or 240Z revival. We're wrapping up here at Cobo for the day so we can head out and grab some grub before it starts snowing tonight. Hopefully the weather will hold-out tomorrow so our flights aren't cancelled. There are more productive (and fun) things I can think of than to be stuck in Detroit's airport. rl