FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 08, 2007
Detroit auto show previews cars of the future
Automotive coverage involves design, consumer behavior, pop culture, the environment, labor issues and business. Ask students to list other news topics that don’t fit automatically into one section because of overlapping appeal to varied readers.
Lead a discussion of ways that business writers and editors help readers evaluate vehicles in terms of value, safety and reliability.
Cars are not the only consumer products that earn prominent newspaper coverage when new offerings are released. See how many other examples class members can think of.
In a January ritual that catches the attention of car buffs and ordinary drivers alike, U.S. automakers and their foreign rivals unveil new models this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It’s a chance to see what will roll into showrooms in coming months and coming years.
The sleek, snazzy designs include “concept cars” that aren’t being built yet – but that may be offered by the time today’s high school students are shopping for a ride. One sweet model drawing comments is a convertible Camaro from GM with a 400-horsepower V-8 engine.
Beyond the glitz and glamor of new car introductions to journalists and the public, the Detroit show is a reminder of a struggling U.S. industry. GM’s chairman acknowledged the other day that his company this year may be knocked off the global vehicle sales throne it has occupied for 75 years. Toyota has passed Ford to become No. 2 and projects 2007 sales of 9.3 million – 200,000 higher than GM’s level last year.
New accessories: Futuristic touches seen at the Detroit show include fancier entertainment centers, door handles that respond to touch and dashboard computer screens that can display separate images, simultaneously, to passenger and driver.
U.S. automakers’ challenge: Concerns about quality and reliability are the main reasons buyers avoid GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles, according to a new study conducted for The Detroit News. Despite significant quality gains, the Big Three still suffer from the perception that their products are inferior to those from Asian competitors. Just under half of the 500 consumers polled said they’d "most likely" buy a vehicle built by GM, Ford or Chrysler in the next two years.
GM leader says “We're going to fight to keep the (No. 1) position. If one day we lose it, we'll fight to get it back.” – Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO
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