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As analysts, journalists, and auto executives descend on New York, carmakers are rolling out their latest creations
The world of automotive journalists, writers, photographers, videographers, analysts and assorted corporate execs descend onto (invades) New York City Wednesday and Thursday for the New York International Auto Show.
It all gets underway Tuesday evening with a few invitation-only parties at interesting venues, then moves to Jacob Javits Center early on Wednesday, April 4th and continues literally unabated till late afternoon on the 5th with 24 new car reveals, meetings, events and in the evenings, more private dinners and parties.
It's impossible to detail all the new cars and concept vehicles, but overall there will be more small cars, crossovers and SUVs than ever before … and you can color most, if not all of them green.
Here are some of the chosen few – those that seem to lead the way into the automotive future:
BMW – Straight from the Geneva show last month is the refreshed 5-Series, one of the best selling BMWs in the U.S. Design changes have been made to the exterior, to the interior and new options have been added.
Lexus – Who says SUVs are a comatose category? Lexus will reveal its new LX570 which will replace the aging LX470. As usual not much information has been made available, but one can probably expect a new V8 engine … like the new Tundra.
Suzuki – Sales of the SX4 are already underway in Europe with great results. Hence, Suzuki is bringing this small sedan to the New York Show with a 2008 designation. It will have 143 horses under the hood and will be available in automatic or manual.
Nissan – The speed and performance group, aka, NISMO – the acronym for Nissan Motorsports International – have put their talents to work on the 350Z . All in the quest for speed, agility and handling.
Hyundai – The long rumored Genesis, Hyundai's first foray into the luxury market makes its first in-the-metal appearance, rather than in leaked sketches and photos. From these alone it really looks sleek, slick and sophisticated. It's due in stores mid-to-late 2008.
Bentley – Not big in volume, but big in MSRP is the new Bentley Brooklands coupe. Its "limited volume" translates to "it's for the über, über rich." But then so are most Bentleys, aren't they?
Honda – Honda is hoping this little drop-top, inspired by race cars, will set a fast pace for dealers when it arrives in retail showrooms as a 2008 designation.
Infiniti – Best for last? Maybe. The pictures of the new 2008 Infiniti G coupe literally takes your breath away. It's that good looking. No more words, look at this picture.
The World Car Awards of the Year
It's doubtful the bookies in Vegas will predict the odds or take bets on the last – for the next few months at least – car of the year award. The World COTY awards at the New York Show are totally international in scope, size and jury content with KPMG tallying the votes.
The original list of 28 was cut to a short list of 10 finalists, with the top 3 contending for the big prize and bragging rights announced on Thursday, April 5.
World Car of the Year (WCOTY) Finalists
In addition to the WCOTY, special awards will be announced for three other categories, detailed below:
2007 World Performance Car
Porsche 911 Turbo
2007 World Green Car
BMW Hydrogen 7
Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec
Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion
2007 World Car Design of the Year
Citroen C4 Picasso
Fiat Grande Punto
To be eligible for a World Car award, the contender had to be in production, and sold, in at least five countries on two continents during 2006. Vehicles are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 44 top-level automotive journalists from 22 countries around the world.
This week in New York is not just about the cars, it's about the business. Later this week, I will report on several of the myriad dealer and other events taking place in conjunction with the show; including: The Wall Street Awards Dinner; Morgan Stanley Automotive Conference – a unique event featuring CEOs and top level execs, who will speak on a variety of subjects; the special auto advertising awards; and, of course, pictures of the always interesting concept cars.
Reality Check: Gas Prices and Credit
Without exception every auto writer I've spoken to is looking forward to the NY Show. Comments like, "It's gonna be great," "Could be really exciting and interesting," and "Some really new things," were common. But while surrounded by the new, hip and fabulous, there are some serious trends arising that could impact the retail auto business during the vital spring and summer selling period.
Gas Prices: This is not the season to be jolly. The notable Mideast crises have escalated the price per barrel of oil significantly in the past four weeks. I was in California last week and saw pump prices at $3.88 per gallon. In San Francisco, the top price was $4.07 per gallon. In Detroit, the price was $2.85 per gallon.
To some, the price of gasoline per gallon is not a budget buster; to others, it is a critical family financial problem. BIGresearch, a major consumer research company feels ever-increasing gas prices could postpone buying decisions regarding new vehicles. Click here to view a national map showing current gas prices.
Credit: Even the Fed's new chairman could not defuse the issue of foreclosures on sub-prime mortgages on housing. The American Bankers Association reported also that indirect auto loan delinquencies rose from 2.35 percent to 2.57 percent, while home equities rose from 1.79 percent to 1.92 percent. The key difference in credit and delinquencies is the adjustable rates for home loans while auto loans have fixed rates. There will; however, be tighter controls on all loans according to the ABA.
It's a complex business and getting ever more complex. This week will be big for many reasons, but no doubt the dominant focus will remain on the cars… always, the cars.