An album.

Before I pack it in for the night, howsabout a bunch of pictures?

Here’s Honda’s late run at the Prius — the 2010 Insight:

Better late than never.

It’s head-to-head competition because it, like the Prius but unlike the Civic Hybrid, comes only as a hybrid. Remember those stories last year that pegged the Prius’ popularity over other similar (and frequently cheaper) hybrids to the fact that its owners wanted to make a statement? They didn’t want anyone to look at their cars and wonder whether it was a hybrid. Well, that’s the Insight for 2010.

Car models — that is to say, pretty human women standing next to vehicles — used to be standard equipment at the auto show, but now it’s mainly the European luxury brands that use them. Three brunettes stood by three Maseratis all damn day, in stiletto heels no less, striking poses at random. They find their excellence through passion:

Don't ask.

I am so glad I’m only working for myself this year. This is no way to do journalism, friends:


Somewhere in the middle is Rick Wagoner, I think.

Talk about some sweet wheels. My dogs were barking after a few hours, and I could have used one of these:


You want to know the difference between old and new media, there it is. The News or Free Press would never accept a perk like this, but I guess Gawker Media figures if it’s transparent — and there’s a strip somewhere on there that acknowledges Chrysler’s courtesy — it’s not an ethical problem.

Some sort of concept from the Toy people:

It runs on your disbelief.

I think the birdies and flowers are pushing it, but that is the overwhelming impression given by electric vehicles; the pollution is somewhere in Kentucky or China, and the driver wears only a halo.

Finally, I don’t covet cars as a rule, but I covet this one:

Jeeves, the Bentley.

I took one look at it, and my brain said, in a British accent, “That is one beautiful motor car.” A Bentley Azure T. They served champagne after their press conference. (I declined.) As long as we’re on the subject, here’s the payola disclosure, for transparency’s sake — I accepted a mini-burger from the Smart people, a Diet Coke from Chrysler, a cookie from Bentley and one beer, with an accompanying foam cozy, from Kia, even though I thought the car they were celebrating — the Soul’ster concept — looked like it was constructed from plastic. One of the designers took a bow; he had “creative” facial hair, a closely trimmed chin with voluminous side pieces. I was so rattled I grabbed a Corona.

Back tomorrow (I hope). Now to the showers, to wash off all the fabulousness.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Detroit life |

23 responses to “An album.”

  1. Jolene said on January 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Have you decided yet, Nancy, what you’ll do (other than entertain us) w/ all the car show photos and the the info you’re gathering?

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  2. Dexter said on January 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    The Insight appears to have the same windshield angle as the old “dustbuster” GM minivans like the Pontiac Trans Sport which I use to haul my dogs around. Thanks for the photos…the Bentley is a real breath-taker, for sure.

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  3. nancy said on January 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Given that about 5,000 other journalists are gathering the same photos and attending the same press conferences, probably about what I’d intended: Just add to my rumination library and story-idea file. Although the big story that suggests itself now is whether all these electric cars will fly. They’re mostly still very expensive compared to similar gas-only cars, and in a recession as bad as this one? Hard to imagine paying $40K for a Volt.

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  4. brian stouder said on January 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Excellent, excellent coverage. Lovely details, like the high-end, high-heeled models who do the non-stop ‘vogue’ thing makes the reader feel like he has walked the show floor.

    The video of the GM folks doing their chants was also quite affecting; you could sense the self-consciousness of the one woman, and her sense of mission, and her (somewhat abashed!) pride and optimism. That video captured a lot

    edit – Re the Volt: $40K IS too much, but one figures that there will (or should!) be some tax breaks and incentives. Hell, we didn’t pay a lot more than that for our house, and we have reaped all sorts of tax benefits over the intervening decade-and-a-half.

    Plus – if they take off, presumeably the price will come down

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  5. basset said on January 11, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Again, nice pics – are those from your Christmas camera?

    I covet that Honda already. The Bentley is indeed wonderful but for that price I want a roof. The Kia reminds me of a mid-90s Nissan pickup.

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  6. whitebeard said on January 12, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Wonderful coverage, it’s like being there again, without the aching dogs. Thank you for being our window into automania, Detroit-style.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 12, 2009 at 6:11 am

    “whether all these electric cars will fly” — you mean, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Our fine four fendered friend?

    A flying electric car would be soooo Jetsons. (Which is a good thing.)

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  8. Jolene said on January 12, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Since we’re on the subject of cars, you may want to check out Paul Farhi’s comments in the WaPo on the Ford Town Car, many of which will be carrying inauguration visitors in just a few days. Apparently, the Town Car will soon be replaced by a newer, smaller sedan called the MKS. Can’t wait. Next time I need to rent a car for $90/hour (w/ a 30 hour minimum), I plan to check it out.

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  9. Pam said on January 12, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Forty thou for a Volt?!! In America we’re used to paying more based on the size of the car, the bigger the car, the bigger the price tag. The Volt looks like about a $10K to $12K price tag to me. This all seems so convoluted to me, like it was designed to destroy the U.S. automakers. Just as they run out of money, call up Washington for more funds, then give an auto show with lots of silly looking tiny fuel efficient cars, well then, gas goes way down to $2 per gallon! So if we can keep investment bankers out of the crude oil futures market, we could possibly still afford gasoline. At least long enough to enable a smoother transition to the Tiny Cars.

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  10. beb said on January 12, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Your third picture, of the crowd surrounding Rick Wagoner reminds me of a picture i saw back when Britiney Spears was in all the papers because of her on-going nervous break-down. It was a reverse-angle shot showing the scores of photogs surrounding her every second of the day. Who wouldn’t go crazy if you have to push through a crowd of leeches like that just to get to your car….

    I like the exaggerated sporty look of the Cadillac Converj. I wouldn’t mind owning a car that looked like that (whether gas or electric) but somehow suspect that by the time it went from “concept” to production vehicle it will lose most of its sharpness. I don’t know why but production vehicles always look dowdy.

    Everybody’s “Electric” this year just as everybody was all “Hydrogen” a few years back. Will Electric be just another passing fad?

    Your mention of the wifi car makes me wonder if we’re trying to put too much into cars. I mean I don’t even have wifi at home. Should I buy a car just to get some broadband connectivity? Just how many cup holders does one need in a car? And how much does a cup-holder that warms or cools your drink add to the price? When did cars become more posh then our homes? And what’s to become of those people who just want something to get us from place to place?

    Thanks for all the pics. I hope your dogs are feeling better today.

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  11. Sue said on January 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Sorry for going off-topic, but I finally got to this week’s Sports Illustrated and saw on the cover, then read “The Courage of Detroit (And Yet…)”, by Mitch Albom. No comments on this, Nancy? I think there’s material in there to work with, although I didn’t think the article was really awful. Except for the part using the injured hockey players and masseur story to tie into the point that “when it comes to sports, nobody cares as much as Detroit cares”. Beg to differ on that one, with two words: Walter Payton. I imagine that even heartless New York has a few stories like that one; the vigil surrounding the hospital as Babe Ruth was dying comes to mind.

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  12. MichaelG said on January 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

    The models (female, human) are a part of auto shows. Auto shows wouldn’t be auto shows without them. Jalopnik typically has a feature on them after each show.

    The price of electros and hybrids is one reason I keep thinking of cheap little gas cars. While I was married I used a Geo Metro to commute. When driving eighty miles a day, the big gas mileage was a great relief from my Taurus. I tried not to think about the death trap part. See earlier post. For the difference in price between a Toyota Yaris and a Toyota Prius, both available today down at the corner Toyota store, you can buy a helluva lot of gas. Then there are the maintenance costs with a hybrid. Do you know what they are? How long does the battery pack last? How much to replace? It ain’t gonna be 50 bucks at Pep Boys. Do you want to get in a wreck with a thousand pounds of batteries in the back seat? I still have serious questions about hybrids and their costs for a teensy mileage increase. People seem mesmerized by the word “hybrid” without examining the actual benefits for a specific vehicle and comparing them directly to a target vehicle.

    At this time fully electric cars are little more than glorified golf carts. There are reasons why the auto companies didn’t like making them and why they offered them on a lease basis only. I hope the battery technology will be here soon, but it’s not here now.

    Wonderful stuff, Nance. I greatly enjoy your excellent reporting.

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  13. jcburns said on January 12, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Csaba Csere has nothing on you…except, of course, a pronunciation-challenged name.

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  14. MichaelG said on January 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    You mean Caesar Casaba?

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  15. MichaelG said on January 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I think he pronounces it something like Chubba Cheda.

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  16. brian stouder said on January 12, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Given Sue’s observation about Mitch’s latest foray into Sports Illustrated, maybe instead of “An album”, Nance’s header could have been “A non-Albom Detroit Album”

    edit: and – gotta love that (leopard?) roller bag visible in the Azure T picture

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  17. kayak woman said on January 12, 2009 at 11:44 am

    MichaelG has it about right. I don’t know the guy but a good friend lives next door to him.

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  18. moe99 said on January 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    remembering an old dispute here from pre election days, it appears that about 1/3 of ambassadorship appointments historically have gone to political donors or heavyweights. And Obama looks to continue the tradition (but considering the source of the article, I will wait to see what actually happens):

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  19. The Quiet One said on January 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I think you’re right beb. Electric is this year’s hydrogen which was last year’s biofuels. No matter what you do, electric cars are limited by the chemistry of the batteries. I have doubts that any battery in the works will change the cost/range/recharging time equation in any meaningful way.

    The only thing that will truly work is decreasing the weight and horsepower of cars and introducing the European clean diesels in the US. More mass transit would be nice too, but only a few places are truly designed for it and to more or less retrofit the suburbs for it is going to take a long time.

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  20. Jolene said on January 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    As we know, GM has been wrong before, but they are investing heavily in battery technology. Not only buying them, but building them and funding the R&D needed to develop batteries that are more powerful and more efficient.

    Today’s WaPo has an article reporting that GM is building a new plant in Michigan for this purpose. An excerpt:

    The automaker plans to open a 31,000 square foot automotive battey lab in Michigan.

    The company will partner with the University of Michigan’s engineering college to develop automotive battery engineers.

    GM also hopes to accelerate its in-house battery development by growing its electric vehicle staff to several hundred engineers this year.

    “We’re building a roster of battery suppliers and academic experts from around the globe, and leveraging their specialized abilities to develop battery chemistries and cell designs, as well as future automotive battery engineers,” Wagoner said.

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  21. MarkH said on January 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    MichaelG has it exactly right. Csere never corrects anyone who pronounces it that way when on TV. Michael also makes some very good points about weighing the benefits of new-fangled car power vs. internal combustion power. That aside, my sister loves her Prius, expects it to last a long time, as she takes excellent care of it. And, does indeed get 47 mpg around Denver.

    FWIW — Nancy’s former classmate, Peter King, extolls profusely about Albom’s SI article on Detroit in his weekly on-line Monday Morning Quarterback column, at, if anyone’s interested.

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  22. Catherine said on January 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Battery technology is coming along nicely in some arenas in which cost is less of a factor (like spacecraft). Assuming the materials used are not scarce, it’s not far-fetched to assume that some of these advances will trickle down. Just, when?

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  23. joodyb said on January 13, 2009 at 12:49 am

    i’m goin’ out on a limb and guessing it’s not nn’s, but i particularly love the animal print bag next to the bentley (or is that too catty of me?).

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