The Changing Face of Cars

Looking back over time, fashion in automobiles is not unlike fashion in clothes except that clothes change a lot faster. Looking back over the years since I have been part of the auto industry, I have seen really small cars come out, and in no time, bigger was better. Station wagons were in style at one time, then SUVs came along and pushed aside minivans. Sadly I am old enough to remember when pickups only came is single cabs and were used strictly for work.

Our latest trend has been for more fuel-efficient cars that are nicely equipped. What I am seeing now is cars changing more rapidly. I have been critical of automakers that get complacent and do not change their vehicles quickly enough. The automakers make a lot more money continuing to sell cars without a lot of changes, but those car companies that continually bring out new product will be the most successful. Hyundai and Ford are good examples of this.

It would appear that we are about to witness an onslaught of new vehicles. At the upcoming New York Auto Show, we will see a massive amount of new vehicles coming our way. I have to say that it is an exciting time to watch the auto industry. The competition between the automakers is intense, more so than I have ever seen it. None of them are resting on their laurels today.

We will finally get a glimpse of the new Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, and GMC Acadia. These are examples of vehicles that did not change quickly enough. We will see a new Chevy Impala, another vehicle that greatly needed to change. Hyundai has changed almost their entire lineup in the last few years, but we will see a freshened Santa Fe.

Mercedes is adding a diesel option to the popular GLK, and they are changing the big GL SUV, which also needed some updates. Also in New York, we will see the Infiniti version of the Nissan Leaf. If you have the need for speed, you will get your first look at the post-bankruptcy Chrysler SRT product, the new Viper.

New York will be the scene of the debut of the new Lexus ES 350, and the hybrid version as well. We have not seen a hybrid version of the ES in the past. We will get to see an all-new Lincoln MKZ that was badly in need of a makeover.

Toyota understands the importance of changing its products more often. After only token changes for several years prior to the earthquake and tsunami, Toyota will introduce 19 new models in 2012. That is an amazing amount of new or refreshed vehicles, and I predict by the end of the year, their sales will reflect it in a positive way.

Honda has found itself in the same predicament as Toyota, not enough change quickly enough. The 2012 Civic, although a great car, didn’t seem to move people and is being re-done again.

My job, which is in part to keep up and report on new models is not going to be easy over the next couple of years and beyond, but it sure looks like it will be fun!


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