AirTalk for January 9, 2012

Detroit Auto Show – more than cars

Press Preview For Detroit International Auto Show

Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

The Mercedes-Benz cars are displayed during the second press preview day at the Detroit International Auto Show at the Cobo Center January 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.

The world's biggest auto show isn't just a chance to preview hot new wheels. Sure, we will get a first look at sexy and strange new concept cars – including an Acura that promises headlines and reinvigorated Honda Accord. Nevertheless, it's also a good time to take the temperature of the automobile industry, its impact on the economy and the economy's impact on car manufacturers.

In terms of product and profit, the U.S. auto industry is back. What does that say about the bailout packages for the big three? Again this year, the show will see an abundance of hybrids, electrics and alternative-fuel vehicles. Is the public buying in yet? How have gas prices affected car designers?

Automakers aren't obliged yet to follow the latest CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, but they are already coming on board with better mileage. Cars are being built smaller using lighter metals and turbo-charging.

Also crowding the floor will be a plethora of new luxury models from Cadillac, Mercedes, Lexus, and Acura. Will 2012 bring luxury back? The Wall Street Journal's Dan Neil joins us from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and KPCC's in-house car guy, Matt DeBord, is in studio.

Guests:

Dan Neil, Automotive Columnist & Senior Editor, “The Wall Street Journal;” Neil is at the Auto Show in Detroit

Matt DeBord, senior reporter and business blogger for KPCC. He writes The DeBord Report for KPCC.org


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