2022 New York Auto Show Recap - The City That Never Sleeps Takes a Nap

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

The 2022 New York Auto Show isn’t the first major auto show to be held since COVID-19 shut the world down in March 2020 – Chicago had shows in 2021 and 2022, and Los Angeles was in its usual slot last year. And there was Motorbella in Detroit last summer.

Still, for whatever reason – the loosening of COVID restrictions, the fact it was the first New York show since COVID, the presence of NY-based journos who don’t deign to travel west of the Hudson for those other shows – there was a pre-show feeling that this was it. This would be the show that marked the return of normalcy. Not LA in 2021 or Chicago just a couple of months ago – no, it would be this one.

Well, not quite. Not if you define “normal” as at least one auto-show press day filled with debuts of all-new and redesigned vehicles, maybe with a cool concept or two thrown in. Instead, we got two refreshed three-row SUVs that happen to share a platform, a refreshed crossover, a lengthened full-size luxo-barge SUV, one interesting concept that’s a variation on another concept that’s already been shown, a refresh for another crossover that was so quiet the manufacturer didn’t even bother with a press conference, and press conferences from a bunch of EV startups – only one of which seems worth keeping an eye on.

Blame it on COVID, supply-chain and chip shortage issues (which are, in part at least, related to COVID), the cadence of product launches, the slow move to off-site events at auto shows, or some combination thereof, but the 2022 New York International Auto Show was relatively quiet.

I don’t even have strong takes. The updates to the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are so mild that I shrug. Adding length to the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer doesn’t move my needle much, either, though I’ll note that already odd-looking proportions look even odder, especially in photos.

Other than VinFast, which, again, is a company that bears watching, my interest was mostly piqued by the Chrysler Airflow – it looked closer to production than one might have expected, and it could help put the shrunken brand back on the radar. It might be the closest any “new” vehicle shown got to being the star of the show. Ironically, the Chrysler stand – home of an arguable star – was way off in the corner.

Even the off-site action in NYC was limited. Ford did something with the Lightning that I was unable to make, and that appears to be the only off-site event in which a vehicle was shown – and the Lightning has already been unveiled. BMW also did an invite-only event on the morning of the show’s second day, and TTAC wasn’t on the guest list.

That’s a contrast to previous years, in which journalists stood awkwardly sipping cocktails in random art galleries and event spaces, waiting for OEM X or Y to take the wraps off a new car. The spectacle usually involved thumping music and boring, self-serving speeches – and occasionally some sort of artistic performance. I still remember a Scion – yes, Scion – event on the West Side that involved some sort of trapeze artistry and weird lighting tricks.

Maybe it’s just the lack of so-called “fun” cars. The Toyota GR Corolla was there, but it had already been shown off-site a few weeks ago. The only truly “sexy” cars unveiled at the show were a supercar from startup Deus and an electric version of the old Shelby Cobra. Otherwise, it’s crossover central, since that’s where the market continues trending.

Again, was the NY show a shell of itself because of the problems dogging the industry? Or just the result of the ebbs and flows of product-launch cadence? Is this just another sign of what I’ve argued for years now – that auto shows are for the consumer, and not the media?

I don’t know. If I did, I’d be working a high-paid consulting gig instead of slogging away as a lowly blogger. I think the real key will be seeing how a true late-summer show goes in Detroit this summer – and seeing what happens in Los Angeles two months after that.

Maybe the auto-show media day is dead. Maybe it isn’t. All I know is that if you’re hungry in Hell’s Kitchen, I know where you can get a good chicken parm sammich for a reasonable price. I also now know about a certain bagel place that seems shaky about getting orders right but produces food so good you won’t care.

I mean “TTAC eats its way around Manhattan” has to be better than a bunch of posts about forgettable crossovers getting forgettable refreshes, right?

OK, fine. I see that look you’re giving me. Let’s hope for more news next time.

[Image © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Ldl20 Ldl20 on Apr 18, 2022

    To further echo the comments above, it's kinda sad what's happened to the NY Auto Show. Each year over the past decade it seemed like you'd spend more and more and see less and less. Coming in from NJ, whether I took a bus in or drove in and played the street parking roulette and walked about a mile to get to the Javits Center, it was expensive (let's not even talk about the years I splurged and took the ferry over). It used to be packed, even if you went on Good Friday, or Easter Sunday some years; it was usually wall-to-wall with people. At least you had a chance to see basically every manufacturer, and some of the oddballs in the basement or on the main concourse. Now, I suspected as much when I decided not to attend this year: It wasn't worth the effort to go and see a show that's a shell of its former self. And this from someone who just missed his 1st show since he can remember, honest. I remember attending shows at the old NY Coliseum in Columbus Circle before the Javits Center was built. Strange times, indeed.

  • Pale ghost Pale ghost on Apr 19, 2022

    I was going to go but looked at their website which listed exhibitors and it did not include BMW, Mercedes, VAG, Volvo and others. Did I interpret it wrong and BMW was there? Auto shows are useful to me if only as a first cut in the selection process. For example if a car is an uncomfortable fit, I can cross it off the list with out having to find one at a dealer and endure the salesperson's pitch. Also saves him/her an up on somebody who is not at the stage a serious prospect.

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
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