2010 North American International Auto Show

Earlier this week, Pure Michigan’s own Maria Wygnal and George Zimmermann got a sneak peek inside the 2010 North American International Auto Show. They joined thousands of journalists from around the world as they gathered in Detroit for a first look at concepts and production models, as well as the latest automotive industry announcements. While George has visited the show many times, this was Maria’s first auto show experience.

The show floor is bright, the displays are amazing, the cars are shiny and clean (colors are fantastic!), the interiors sparkle, and you can’t help but notice the workers who are constantly dusting and wiping the vehicles. There’s definitely some glitz and glamour, but the focus of this year’s show is centered on green technology and hybrid vehicles. Electric battery technology is all the buzz, and there’s no shortage of new ideas on display.

This was my first time attending the auto show in Detroit. When it comes to specifics about different models and new features, all I can say is thank goodness the displays are staffed with friendly people who are happy to answer your questions. It was fun to learn about the different vehicles, talk to people about the show and what other plans they had while visiting Detroit, and take photos (lots of photos!).

Here are some quick tips about this year’s show:

  1. If this will be your first visit to the auto show, or you’re not familiar with downtown Detroit, take a few moments before your trip to check out the different parking options available near Cobo Center. It took me a couple wrong turns before I found the parking lot I was looking for.
  2. I recommend spending some time at the Ford display for two reasons. First, in case you haven’t heard, Ford won the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. Also, the exhibit includes my favorite car of the entire show, a Pure Michigan blue Mustang!!
  3. Check out the Volkswagen display – It’s so white it’s almost blinding, honestly. Plus there is a cool hands-on exhibit behind the cars that lets you interact with a tabletop display screen.
  4. Stop by the CT&T United display for a look at some very tiny (and very cute) electric cars.
  5. Don’t miss the MEDC EcoXperience, located in the lower level of Cobo Center. It’s your opportunity to experience electric vehicles on a 1/4 mile indoor test track. Get a close-up look at a variety of green vehicles and find out for yourself what it’s like to ride inside! You can also browse the alternative energy showcase located nearby.

There are a lot of other things to do in Detroit while you’re here for the show. There are some amazing restaurants that you should make time to check out, many just a short walk or People Mover ride away. If you’re looking for great Mexican food, check out Xochimilco in Mexicantown, just minutes away. Detroit’s Greektown is home to more great restaurants than we can name, like Pegasus and Niki’s Pizza, which was ranked in GQ magazine’s 25 Best Pizzas in America. If you’re looking for something more high-end, visit Seldom Blues in the Renaissance Center, the Wolfgang Puck Grille, or Iridescence. Detroit also has some great bars and pubs, like the Detroit Beer Company, just across the street from Comerica Park.

Detroit is also home to three casinos, where you can try your luck at the slots, blackjack or craps tables.  If you feel like taking a gamble, you have your choice of the MGM Grand Casino, the Motor City Casino, or the Greektown Casino.

Detroit’s museum district is also just a short drive down Woodward.  If you are bringing the kids (or still a kid at heart), check out the Detroit Science Center, which has several hands-on exhibits, an Imax theater, and a planetarium.  The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is right next door and is the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience.  The Detroit Institute of Arts – the 5th largest fine arts museum in the world – is just a short walk from there.  The Detroit Historical museum is also nearby.  This museum is dedicated preserving the history of southeastern Michigan, and includes the favorite and newly renovated Streets of Old Detroit, recreating Detroit street scenes from the 1840′s, 1870′s and early 1900′s.

My visit to the auto show was a great experience. If you have the opportunity, check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!

  • Where: Cobo Center, Detroit
  • When: Public show starts Saturday, Jan. 16, and ends Sunday, Jan. 24
  • Price: Adult admission is $12; seniors (65 and older) and ages 7-12 are $6; kids six years and under are free with a parent or guardian; any day pass, group tickets are $8 with a purchase of 25 tickets or more. For more information, go to www.naias.com or call 248.643.0250.

Here are some the pictures George and I took while we toured the show – check out all of these amazing cars! George also had the chance to ride in the Tango – one of the electric cars located in the MEDC EcoXperience (located in Michigan Hall). He got some great video during his ride that you can see. The EcoXperience is not to be missed – it gives you a chance to ride in some the most innovative electric vehicles out there. Learn more about the EcoXperience, and what the MEDC is doing with green technology on the Upper Hand Blog.

Maria Wygnal is a travel marketing specialist with Travel Michigan/Michigan Economic Development Corp. She grew up in the greater Lansing area and currently resides in East Lansing. Her interests include travel, social media, graphic design and photography.