INSIDER SOUND BITES FROM THE NEW YORK AUTO SHOW.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 02:37PM
Editor

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. The New York International Auto Show begins at the end of this week, with the usual schedule of media preview days up first on the agenda. How does the New York show differ from Detroit?

Well, let me count the ways. First of all the organizers of the Detroit Auto Show are really hung up on being a very important world-class show, and they tout that fact every chance they get, to a point that it’s tedious and annoying. And the world auto manufacturers basically go along with that perspective, reserving concepts and production reveals designed to impress the assembled international auto media that has a huge presence at Cobo Hall.

The New York show organizers don’t care about that so much. Why? Because just the fact that the show is in New York imparts a sense of gravitas to it that just naturally rises to the top. In fact the New York show has eclipsed the other shows and is pressing the Detroit show hard for prestige and importance.

The evidence? More and more manufacturers are reserving major product reveals for the New York show for three critical reasons: 1. It’s the media capital of the country. 2. It’s the biggest market for luxury cars in the country. And 3. One million people regularly attend the show’s public days.

That last point may seem a little strange in a metropolis overrun by yellow taxis, black sedans and SUVs and Uber drivers, but as I’ve stated in previous columns, the greater New York area has some of the most committed auto enthusiasts in the country. Given the roads and the traffic conditions, auto enthusiasts really have to love cars in order to make a go of it in New York and the surrounding region. The incredibly diverse enthusiast machines I have seen tooling around New York on any given day is testament to that fact. And I applaud them for it.

This week, the auto manufacturers will roll out every kind of crossover and luxury SUV imaginable, because that’s the market and no one wants to get caught out by not having one. (Well, except for the supercar manufacturers and ulta-luxury car purveyors, who wow the crowd at the New York show with stupendous versions of rolling Unobtainium, which is a very good – and welcome – thing.)

And in doing so these manufacturers’ executives and attendant PR minions will go out of their way to orchestrate every carefully worded pronouncement, engage in remarkably unrealistic sales predictions and basically overpromise and underdeliver until the cows come home. But then again the assembled multitudes in the media revel in it, since most of them are there due to an auto company or supplier’s largesse (I know, shocking, right?). But I digress.

So, let’s take a listen to some of the Sturm und Drang we’ll be hearing – or overhearing - from the show, and see if you can guess who’s saying what.

“We not only have redefined the luxury high-performance SUV segment with the _______, we have made every other competitor instantly obsolete. We have served notice that we will be at the top of the segment in a very short time. There is no competitor out there even close to what we’re doing. I pity the fools who can’t see this. And at around $73,000, it’s an undeniably damn good deal too.”

“We may be late with our update to our big, honkin’ SUV, but don’t confuse that with being ill-prepared, because one look at our Belchfire SUPERUV and you will be impressed beyond mere words.”

“We build sports cars that satisfy our desires and fulfill our fantasies. Beyond that we don’t give a shit what you think. That is all.”

"We’ve already totally redesigned this thing aiming for an intro next January, but in the meantime we’re bringing out this tricked-out Black Edition because our dealers have to be able to move some lame-duck metal and we’re totally out of ideas.”

“Every other high-performance SUV in the class should immediately be put on the trailer. We will dominate the segment with our unbridled talent, vision, engineering know-how and sheer force of will. Thank you for coming.”

“I actually don’t know why we even bothered. We have a totally average SUV indistinguishable from oh, about fifteen others. When’s lunch?”

“I like where we’re at. Our dealers like where we’re at too. We’re up in sales for the eighth year in a row, and no one has a clue as to how we’re doing it - well, except for the overabundance of subprime financing and slamming enough cash down on the hood to leave a dent.”

“This sports sedan will humiliate all other sport sedans that came before it. It has more flair in its shift knob than others have in their entire portfolio. It will become the top sports sedan in the segment within two years. I am absolutely certain of it. When will dealers have them in stock? Why do you ask such stupid questions?”

“We had a clue once, and for a brief shining moment we actually had it goin’ on. Now? We couldn’t hit these overreaching sales targets if our lives depended on it. Have you seen our product lineup? It’s like a collective rolling monument to mediocrity. I’m the top sales guy, at least for now. Or at least until headquarters realizes I’m an American and I’ve been here 27 months. Which is about three months too long.”

“Our plan is working. And our dealers are aligned with it. We have eliminated the stragglers and we have new product in place or on the way that will redefine the brand for a profitable and successful future. Yes, of course we’re still totally reliant on gigantic luxury SUVs for our very existence and probably will be for the foreseeable future, so what’s your point?”

Ah yes, as Stevie Wonder famously said, “New York, just like I pictured it.”

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

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