New York Auto Show 2013

New York auto show has never been particularly big. Coming after the major NAIAS event in Detroit and the smaller, size rivalling Chicago auto show in February, many manufacturers have already shown their big hitters in Geneva or are reserving their major debuts for the later Asian market shows in Beijing or Shanghai, which have been gaining in importance in recent years.

So what’s becoming of the New York ‘international’ auto show?

This year Land Rover stole the limelight with the global reveal of the Range Rover Sport, the second generation of the popular sport utility. The company closed off streets and set the current 007 (Daniel Craig) loose behind the wheel. But besides the Range Rover Sport, premium automaker Cadillac presented the new CTS while Mercedes and Jaguar were on hand with a pair of sporting variants for their existing models — the CLA 45 AMG and XJ-R, respectively.

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One of the reasons the New York auto show is still an attraction for global players is mainly one of market buoyancy. While sales have taken a sharp hit in Europe and it’s nearly impossible to sell a car in Japan anymore, the North American market is on an upswing, pulling itself out from the doldrums of recession and surging in sales — though not quite up to where they used to be pre-crisis.

Korean automaker Kia, is eager to get in on some of this action, showing off the third Forte model in as many years — the Koup — as well as the new Soul, tiger grille proudly in its nose. Toyota also chose New York to show off the new Highlander, while Japanese rival Honda took the wraps off its new Acura-badged MDX. And though we’ve seen the new Volkswagen Golf before (in Paris) the east coast was reveling in its first appearance on American soil.

Meanwhile, the domestic automakers were also showcasing new models, such as the new Jeep Cherokee and Chevrolet Camaro (which was joined by the “Turbo” custom set to star in a “high velocity comedy” from Dreamworks this July), the Buick LaCrosse and Regal and the new Chevrolet SS. Not a bad turnout for a smallish show.

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Unfortunately this was a somber year for show car reveals, save the new Subaru WRX concept. We’e got a video with design director Osamu Namba giving us a walkaround of the concept.

Like most markets the world over, efficiency is still a major buzzword in New York. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular for those who want to save a bit of cash at the pumps, but range anxiety and size issues are still proving a hurdle for pure EVs. That said, more than a quarter of new car buyers are looking to downsize on their next car purchase.

But if you thought the entire US market is downsizing, trading in their large SUVs in favor of fuel misers, you’d be mistaken. SUV sales and luxury marques are really taking off, leading the sales resurgence with an 11 percent increase over smaller, conventional vehicles, which, by comparison, have only seen an eight percent gain over the same period last year.

That’s still a whole lot better than Europe.


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