This Saturday is the calm before the storm.
While the Los Angeles Auto Show is the opening act of the North American auto show season, Detroit is the main event. Here’s what to expect at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, which begins this Monday.
That, Herr Müller is planning on visiting Detroit and U.S. regulators, and the Infiniti QX30 name change was forced by dealers … after the break!
What to expect at the 2016 North American International Auto Show
In order of appearance, this is what you’ll likely see and hear about Monday and Tuesday from Detroit:
Chrysler: According to The Windsor Star, FCA’s Detroit auto show stand will be its largest ever and show the company’s brand-new minivan. That new model will be built in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, just across the river from Detroit. As far back as last February, executives at FCA have been hinting at an electrified future for its minivan. Will it be a plug-in hybrid? Will it have all-wheel drive? And what does that mean for Stow ‘n Go? Those questions remain unanswered.
Chevrolet: The production-ready Bolt EV has already been revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and it will likely make an additional appearance in Detroit. The 2017 Cruze Hatchback is also confirmed for the show. There are whispers of a supercharged Camaro — possibly called ZL1 — but we’re not betting on a Detroit debut for that car this year.
Audi: The German luxury brand will bring its 2017 A4 to Detroit and possibly another production vehicle. CNET ventures a guess at the second model being a new Q5 crossover or A5 coupe. Audi is also expected to bring a previously unseen concept to NAIAS. Some are positing it will be a hydrogen fuel cell or electrified Q6.
Volkswagen: The BUDD-e Microbus concept is expected to make a trip from Las Vegas to Detroit this weekend to be drolled over by the slack-jawed automotive press. Other than that, Volkswagen has been staying fairly tight lipped. If they do debut anything, we’re guessing an electrified Tiguan is in the cards.
Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Smart: The big reveal for the tri-star brand will be the E-Class. The Mercedes-Benz SLC, Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, Mercedes-AMG S65 Cabriolet and Smart Fortwo Cabrio are confirmed to be in attendance as well.
BMW: The BMW M2 and X4 M40i are all but confirmed for Detroit. No surprises there. Though BMW’s Mini brand will be missing from this year’s show — which is totally okay by us.
Volvo: The XC90 has been a success so far for fledgling Volvo. To build on that hit, Sweden’s now-only automaker will show its S90 large sedan, which sports the same design as the XC90 up front in a much slimmer wrapper. There’s no reason why the S90 won’t get the exact same powertrain options as its bigger brother XC90, which has infinitely more powertrain options than Volvo’s Los Angeles concept.
Porsche: The Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S will be attending this year’s show. Don’t expect anything more than that. Though, hopefully Porsche will bring its Mission E concept which it revealed last year.
Ford: The Blue Oval will definitely show a refreshed Fusion sedan with plug-in hybrid gear. However, Ford has a track record for dropping surprises in Detroit. Ranger? Bronco? Who knows? (Please let it be a Bronco.)
Infiniti: A two-door version of the Q50 sedan, to be named Q60, is a foregone conclusion for Infiniti. A concept version of the coupe was shown at NAIAS last year and a production-ready model was spied later during a photoshoot.
Honda: Expect a new Ridgeline to grace the Honda stand in Detroit. It will likely be closer to a traditional truck than the current Ridgeline, but tearing away the skin is expected to reveal Pilot and Odyssey bones.
Kia: The Korean automaker is making a push into the large, luxury SUV segment with its Telluride concept. Whether it will win over hearts and minds or not reveals only question marks for now.
Acura: Honda’s luxury marque is continuing its play into sports cars, it seems. The Acura Precision Concept will open the second day of the Detroit Auto Show.
Lincoln: Will a production-ready Lincoln Continental be shown in Detroit? Probably. Will it look like a pixelated Ford Taurus? Maybe. Will it save Lincoln? Unlikely.
Nissan: Expect the folks in Tennessee to keep their truck momentum going at Detroit this year. New Titan light-duty pickup? Frontier? We’ll find out Tuesday.
Notable exceptions: Jaguar/Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati and others won’t be attending NAIAS this year. Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Ram, Scion, Subaru and Toyota will be present but have nothing new to show. Buick looks to be showing its big surprise off-site, fully expected to be a new Enclave, in addition to the Chinese-built Envision.
Matthias Müller to address media Monday, meet with regulators Wednesday
Our man, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller, will be on hand Monday to address media at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. Expect him to say sorry multiple times.
After his appearance in Detroit, Müller will meet with regulators on Wednesday, one day before a California Air Resources Board imposed deadline for Volkswagen to propose a fix for its nearly 600,000 dirty diesels in the United States, reports The Wall Street Journal.
This will be Müller’s first visit to the U.S. since taking over the CEO position from Martin Winterkorn.
They’re all called QX30 now, and you can blame the dealers
According to Automotive News, dealers forced Infiniti to rename its new duo of compacts because they thought the “models looked so similar that dealers worried about keeping them straight in the minds of customers and in marketing campaigns.” We’re going to guess the dealers themselves couldn’t tell the Q30 and QX30 apart, either.
The cars — nee Q30 and QX30 — are only separated by front/all-wheel drive, a slight ride height difference, and body cladding on the QX30 AWD model. The QX30 S is sporty, hence the S.