Back in January, Sam mused that Detroit was no longer the home of car design. That was a view partly born out of the paucity of significant new cars launched in Detroit and the complete lack of radical ideas. Question is: has the New York auto show now superseded Detroit as the place to launch a new, premium car in North America? It looks that way.
New York has long been a second-tier show, sitting behind Detroit — but also LA — in importance. It’s also been totally overshadowed by the alternating Shanghai and Beijing shows, which have often opened on exactly the same April dates as New York. Carmakers have, unsurprisingly, prioritized China. In 2011, that meant Mercedes took a fully functioning Concept A to China [though it didn’t actually run at the time of the press conference –Ed.], but brought just half a model of the car (reflected by mirror to make it into a virtual full concept) to New York.
This year though, New York seems to have turned the tables. We don’t know the list of debuts in China, but the list for New York is impressive enough to outshine Detroit, and in production cars, Geneva too. So we’re getting a new Cadillac CT6, McLaren 570S, Jaguar XF, Kia Optima, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX, Nissan Maxima and Chevrolet Malibu in the Big Apple. There’s also a new Lincoln Continental concept, which appears to have already caused a small car design social media storm.
What’s interesting is how New York has acquired the premium city crown when it comes to the car. Cadillac’s HQ relocation to the Big Apple perhaps shouldn’t be viewed as an industry barometer, but it is significant. And the company’s choosing to launch its most significant car of the year — and new naming structure — in its newly adopted home city, too.
Likewise, Jaguar’s XF (bizarrely ‘tight-rope walked’ over a dingy dock in east London last week) feels very at home in the gritty urban surroundings of New York. We’re already seeing a ton of media technical briefings on it, which are taking place in Chelsea loft warehouses. For the modern buyer Jag would like to attract, you can’t get much more premium than that.
In short – it makes sense, and seems very easy – to launch a new car in this city. Combine all that with the fact that America’s economic recovery continues to outpace anywhere in Western Europe, and overshadow Chinese growth which is falling below the dizzy heights of previous years, and you get the sense there’s a slow pulling back of power back from East to West.