FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 12, 2009
The Auto Show goes on in Detroit -- with signs of changing times
Companies and workers that build cars are in the news a lot these days. Find a report about December sales, federal help for auto makers and proposals aimed at making it easier to buy or lease vehicles.
The U.S. auto makers' fate affects people and places nationwide. Look for coverage that localizes the economic pressures on GM, Chrysler and Ford.
The Detroit show is a reminder that stylish, snazzy new vehicles are in the works. Clip or print a photo of one that you'd be proud to drive . . . and tell why.
Detroit's best-known annual event, the North American International Auto Show, offers media previews this week as a stage-setters for the public run from Jan. 17-25. For a struggling industry that faces severe changes, this is a high-profile chance to show car buyers, national lawmakers an up to 6,000 journalists why American automakers deserve support.
"Welcome to the first Detroit auto show in the bailout era," Automotive News says under the headline "Glitz on a shoestring." Tough times clearly reshape the event. Nissan and six other foreign carmakers - Ferrari, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and Suzuki - are staying away to save money. Other manufacturers have scaled back displays and promotional activities - such as news media parties traditionally hosted by GM, Chrysler and Toyota.
Futuristic concept cars and snazzy street vehicles usually get the most attention. For 2009, the focus is on thrifty alternative fuel models - including as a Fusion Hybrid that Ford describes as the most fuel efficient mid-size car, a redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid and a 2009 Honda Insight hybrid sedan.
Dealer says: "All automakers are fighting for survival and because of that, it makes sense to get back to the basics." - Joe Serra, co-chairman of the show and an auto dealer in Grand Blanc, Mich.
Manufacturer says: "Less glitz and no giveaways. These are unfortunate but necessary steps to help return Chrysler to a solid footing. Our press event this year will be more straightforward, reflecting our need to run more efficiently during a tough environment." - Rick Deneau, Chrysler executive, announcing elimination of free lunches and open-bar party
Newcomers from China: Two Chinese auto manufacturers, BYD and Brilliance, are making their first appearance on the main show floor.
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