Optimism at New York Show Bodes Well for Global Auto Show Circuit

David Sargent

The global automotive spotlight was shining brightly on the dozens of new model debuts and more than 1,000 vehicles on display earlier this month at the New York International Auto Show. While some of the vehicles shown in New York had already debuted at previous shows in Los Angeles, Detroit or Geneva, Switzerland, many were seen for the first time by the public.

There was an overall buzz at the Javits Center in New York City about the auto industry rebounding to sales levels last seen before the financial crisis of 2008. J.D. Power’s forecasting alliance partner LMC Automotive expects global light-vehicle sales to increase to 79.2 million in 2012, a 5% increase from 2011. All major regions are expected to post stronger sales in 2012, compared with 2011.

Japan is expected to see strong growth with sales of 4.8 million, up 16% from 2011. Sales in India are expected to reach 3.2 million in 2012, up 11% from 2011, while China’s sales are expected to increase 9% to 19.7 million. Brazil’s sales are expected to grow 1% in 2012 to 3.5 million. In addition, LMC Automotive expects 14.1 million new light vehicles to be sold in the U.S. this year.

That positive news about the improving health of the automotive industry made for an electric atmosphere at the New York show.

However, it was the vehicles themselves that held center stage. A few highlights:

US Automakers Share Muscular New Models

Chevrolet showed off the 2014 Impala. The new model will mark the 10th generation of the Impala, which was first introduced in 1958.

Chrysler introduced its new SRT Viper, which will carry the Chrysler badge rather than returning to Dodge. SRT stands for “street and racing technology,” and the Viper will carry a 600-horsepower V-10 engine.

Ford also flexed its muscle with the Shelby 1000, its most powerful Mustang yet. The 1000 will feature Ford’s 5.4-liter V-8 engine that the manufacturer claims produces 950 horsepower.

European Automaker Debuts are Impressive

BMW shared with the world its M6 Convertible, 6 Series Gran Coupe and X1 Crossover.

Porsche took the veil off its lighter, more fuel-efficient 2013 Boxster, which has a thoroughly new look with a forward-shifted windscreen, wider rear air vents, flowing door panels and large, exaggerated wheel fenders. The redesigned compact model, which is meant to attract sports car enthusiasts who can’t quite afford (or choose not to afford) the 911, reinforces the Porsche brand image and will help bring additional consumers into the brand.

Mercedes-Benz showed its newly redesigned 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class with its top-of-the-line trim level, the SL65 AMG. The SL65 AMG boasts a V-12 engine with 621 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to Mercedes.

Japanese Automakers Introduce Redesigns of Popular Car Models

Toyota introduced a dramatically different-looking Avalon sedan, featuring a bold redesign that has been created by Toyota’s North American design and engineering teams. The 2013 Venza crossover also was unveiled. The exterior of the Venza gets a new look—and three new colors, while the interior gets a nice upgrade.

• On the Lexus side of the Toyota Motor Corp. house, they revealed the all-new sixth-generation ES luxury sedan, which also has a more muscular stance and includes the signature Lexus spindle grille. A hybrid version of the ES will be available that is expected to achieve 40 mpg in combined driving. Both models will offer three driving modes—Eco, Normal and Sport—for a more exciting driving experience.

Honda was busy with its new Crosstour concept. The concept Crosstour, which dropped the Accord name for 2012, adds more standard features such as a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and USB input.

Nissan’s new Altima is a “dramatic” redesign, taking cues from the Ellure concept that the company showed at the Los Angeles auto show. One of America’s best-selling models takes on the more aggressive lines of Nissan’s Z as well as the athletic look of the Maxima, Juke, and the Quest. The new model’s refinements, including NASA-inspired seats, new safety warning systems, and a more agile suspension for responsive handling, give it a much more upscale feel and look in the competitive midsize sedan market.

Mitsubishi showed a revised and refined 2013 Outlander Sport. Following some minor changes for 2012, the 2013 small crossover SUV gets some design changes on the exterior and some upgrades inside for a new look and feel.

• Finally, Subaru drew applause for its off-road-ready crossover, the 2013 XV Crosstrek. The compact crossover has rugged styling, all-wheel drive and plenty of ground clearance. Inside the Crosstrek, the rear seat folds flat for plenty of storage, and the cargo area features a removable waterproof tray and tie-down hooks.

Hybrid, electric and clean diesel-powered vehicles were quietly on display at the show, but none graced the stages during the automakers’ press conferences. Overall, there were plenty of reasons at the New York International Auto Show to be excited about the current and future state of the global auto industry. That energy should carry over to the next stop on the global auto show circuit, the Beijing Motor Show later this month.— David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates

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