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NAIAS Coverage - Day 1
 Date: January 09, 2005 11:51
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: TOV News
 Credibility Rating: Not Specified

11:30 AM EST - Here we go again. It's frigid, snowy, and slushy in Detroit. Go Figure. Back home in Atlanta, it's going to be around 70 F. They're saying it might soar all the way up to 35 here. Anyhow, we just got situated in the media center and staked our claim for our 30" of desk space. Its amazing how many scribes (thousands?) make the trip to Detroit every year to cover this show. Everywhere you go there's a queue and lots of bulky clothing and items to deal with. Now it's already lunch time (thanks, GM) so we're about to head downstairs for some grub. Remember, Acura's taking the wraps off of their RDX concept later this afternoon. Updates to follow... jp

2:20 PM EST - I just ran upstairs to the media center to post a quick update and left Ryan shooting the Lexus LF-A concept at the Lexus Press Conference. Problem is, I forgot to swap out the memory cards on the 10D so I don't have any pics with me at the moment. Woops. I did bring one of the camcorders with me and I shot some footage of the LF-A Concept. This is a sweet sports car concept. Over 500hp from less than 5.0L, "perfect weight distribution", an overall length 2 inches shy of a 911, yet with a wheelbase over 9" longer. Good news, Ryan just walked up so I'm going to get started processing some of the photos before we head down to stake our spot for the Acura press conference. The Chrysler press conferenced featured the new Firepower! (of course), a gargantuan Jeep concept called the Gladiator, and an absurd concept called the Hurricane. Complete with TWO hemi motors, reversable drive on each axle (left to right) and fourwheel steering, this thing has a turning radius of 0ft. The setup for the Chrysler conference was a little wacky and it made it really difficult to even see the stage from our position (we arrived just as it was starting and seemingly every human being attending the show was crammed into that space). Normally after the press conference you have a little time to shoot pics and video of the cars, but the stage was very small and had all three concepts and something like 500 people trying to get a shot of the concepts. So no real good pics of those yet. The GM affair was pretty blah. Since I missed most of it, Ryan will tell you about it below in his update. From what I understand, they showed a hybrid concept (original!) and their "lunch" consisted of hors d'oeuvres, which were pretty much eggrolls. Satisfying, indeed... jp

2:50 PM EST I didn't catch much more of the GM presentation than Jeff did, but I had a few more bits of food than he. The brownies were tasty. But, back to the reason we're here: the cars! It seems that GM and Daimler-Chrysler have co-developed a "two-mode full hybrid system". Basically, it's a system that is flexible enough to be used with gas or diesel engines in front, rear, or all-wheel drive configurations with only automatic transmissions. It seems that it's a gas engine with electric motor supplement that can change the assist based on various parameters. We'll provide more details once we decode the info in their press kit. It's a bit cryptic. The vehicle for this technology is the Graphyte, which is an AWD SUV that claims a 25% improvement in gas mileage over a non-hybrid powerplant. It uses a Vortec 5.3L V-8 with Displacement on Demand (DoD). A similar powerplant will be in the Yukon and Tahoe by '07. The GM Sequel is a similar SUV to the Graphyte, but uses a fuel cell for power. In GM's mind, SUVs are clearly all the rage.

The Lexus LF-A concept is pretty cool, but decidedly more luxury focused than an all-out exotic. According to the presentation, Lexus "may consider production", which means don't hold your breath for a production version anytime soon. The nose is a little long and drops-off a bit too much for my tastes, but overall, it looks like a clean design.

We were told about Chrysler's party to celebrate the 300C being named Motor Trend's Car-of-the-Year. Unfortunately, it starts at 4PM and Acura's press conference is at 4:30PM. Decisions, decisions...free food or show you the RD-X? The things we do for our readers! That said, the Chrysler Firepower is a pretty face, but again, the nose goes on forever; I'm not sure that the pictures convey just how long it's snout is. Jeep's Gladiator is an interesting pickup concept that would probably do well to fill-in the gap in Jeep's lineup. It would seem that for all the ruggedness attached to the Jeep name, they would have a pickup already in their lineup. The Hurricane is just off-the-wall and has no chance of seeing production. That's all for now -- more later. rl

6:30PM EST - With U2's "Vertigo" setting the mood for Acura's press conference, Tom Elliot voiced some remarks about Acura in general and the design goals of the RD-X. Geared towards those with creative jobs, active lifestyles, and who live in an urban environment, the RD-X conveys a sense of immediacy with it's sharp lines, chiseled lights, and smooth overall character. I think the smallish SUV looks really good and the photos are a fairly accurate indicator of what the production version will look like, save for the side cameras, air-jet windshield cleaners, LED lights, etc. If the interior remains close to this concept, we North Americans will be in for a treat -- I dig it. No word on powertrain yet, but they claimed "around 200+ HP" and SH-AWD. But more on the RD-X later...

The Nissal Azeal is a pretty cool smallish car. I didn't have a chance to stick around for much of the presentation for it since Acura's followed, but if its looks are any indication of its performance, it should be a gem. Unfortunately, Nissan didn't seem to spend much time on it; they introduced the Azeal right off the bat and then pushed it aside (almost literally) so the stage could be populated with no fewer than 5 SUVs (all driving on-stage at once) from Nissan's extensive light truck line-up. I, for one, was disappointed that the Azeal didn't get to bask in the limelight any longer. Hours following, though, it seemed to still be receiving lots of attention.

Well, Jeff and I (and Tuan, who's helping process our photos at home) are finishing up here for the day. Hopefully there will be some food and drinks still waiting for us at the Chrysler party. I know we're anxious to get out of here -- someone is asleep at the thermostat, so while we're dressed for winter in Detroit, it feels more like Miami in September. The cold air will do us some good. More later, including video from the Acura press conference and interviews with the RD-X designers... rl

Last edited by JeffX on January 11, 2005 22:44

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