2014 Washington DC Auto Show opens to the public this friday

Cadillac ELR with Regen On Demand, Cadillac’s electric car, wins the Green Car Journal’s 2014 Green Car Technology Award 

The 2014 Washington (DC) Auto Show opens to the public on Friday, Jan. 24 ( ending Feb. 2) and there’s a lot to see this year. Click on the video above as Kimatni Rawlins of Automotive Rhythms takes you around the show floor for a sneak peek of this year’s event, and go to http://www.washingtonautoshow.com/ for show hours and ticket information.

In addition to all the automotive policy talk that the pre-show events and press conferences are known for, every year the big discussion always turns green. Make sure you stop by and see the Cadillac ELR Regen On Demand, Cadillac’s electric car, as it wins the Green Car Journal’s Green Car Technology Award for 2014. The prestigious award, which is the equivalent of the North American Car and Truck award for the gasoline engine vehicles, was presented at a Green Car Journal press conference during the Washington Auto Show’s second Policy Day.

“Cadillac has cleverly evolved a common electric-drive efficiency system into an intriguing feature that adds a new dimension to the driving experience,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. “Ever-increasing efficiency is crucial to our driving future, yet efficiency itself is not an attraction for a great many car buyers. Cadillac’s Regen on Demand is an inspired example of how technology can increase efficiency while connecting with a driver, enhancing driving dynamics along the way.”

2014 Cadillac ELR

2014 Cadillac ELR

Like most regenerative braking systems in hybrid and electric vehicles, the ELR’s electric motor acts as a generator while braking, automatically recovering energy that’s delivered to the batteries as electricity. Unique to the ELR extended range electric vehicle, Regen on Demand also allows a driver to instantaneously engage and disengage regen at will by pulling back or releasing left or right steering wheel paddles. This not only creates electricity on demand, but enhances driving dynamics by inducing regen drag that allows decelerating before turns and in other circumstances, without braking or requiring a driver’s foot to reposition from the accelerator pedal.

“Regen on Demand is one of the key systems enabling the Cadillac ELR to merge performance with efficiency in a dynamic new way,” said Jim Vurpillat, director of emerging markets at Cadillac. “Putting regenerative braking at the driver’s fingertips supports the ELR’s 340-mile total driving range while also adding a fun-to-drive element matching the engaging design and performance of this premium luxury coupe.”

Along with Cadillac ELR’s Regen on Demand, 2014 Green Car Technology Award™ nominees include the Acura Sport Hybrid SH-AWD powertrain; Audi 3.0-liter TDI clean diesel engine; BMW i3 carbon fiber reinforced plastic passenger cell; Ford 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine; Honda Accord plug-in powertrain; Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell; Mazda i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system; Porsche plug-in hybrid powertrain; and Ram Truck 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine. Each of these finalists earns Green Car Journal’s 2014 Product of Excellence honor that acknowledges the important role they play in creating a new generation of highly efficient vehicles.

This year, the show planners have six car makers unloading truck loads of vehicles for you to test drive on the Washington DC streets — Cadillac, Scion, Toyota, Kia, Subaru and Volkswagen. The rides are available every day during the show, throughout the day. Check the show’s website for a complete schedule. And if you’re not feeling the cold weather, you can ride a variety of Jeep vehicles inside the show as part of the Jeep Adventure course, along with the popular Kid’s Zone. 

You’ll have to brave the snow and ice, but this show is worth the trouble as there will be a full complement of car and truck makers displaying their new toys for 2015. Enjoy!

2014 Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler debut special-edition Altitude models at the opening of the Houston Auto Show Today

2014 Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler Unlimited Altitude

2014 Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler Unlimited Altitude

Houston Auto Show Planners call 2014 the biggest show yet
HOUSTON (January 22, 2014) — With its blacked out exteriors and aggressive flair, the Jeep brand has applied the popular Altitude look to three more of its vehicles, all in time for an announcement at the 2014 Houston Auto Show.

Jeep announced today that the Altitude special edition will be available for the first time on the new Cherokee, and returning for Grand Cherokee, Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. The new models join the 2014 Jeep Compass and Patriot Altitude models that are in dealerships now, and the new special-edition Altitude models will arrive in Jeep showrooms this spring.

Jeep introduced a production-intent concept Grand Cherokee at the Houston Auto Show two years ago, and asked customers to name the model. Jeep enthusiasts submitted more than 100,000 entries, and “Altitude” was the name of choice. Jeep then began to create limited runs of the Altitude models.

“The unique ‘blacked-out’ theme of the Jeep Altitude models resonated so well with consumers two years ago that it makes perfect sense to bring them back now, particularly since we have new versions of the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “What began as a production-intent concept and naming contest generated significant buzz and evolved into a lineup of special-edition Jeep vehicles that appeal to many consumers – especially those wanting a very distinct, aggressive and edgy look.”

The 2014 Houston Auto Show opens today, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Reliant Center in Houston. The show occupies more than 700,000 square feet of display space in the center and will feature the latest vehicles from 34 of the world’s automakers. This year’s list include: Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Mercedes, Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, MINI, Nissan and Scion.  Plus, the high-end luxury vehicle boutique will return for its third year featuring Lotus, Aston Martin, Porsche, and Maserati.
According to the show planners, more than 60 models will be available for test drive in the parking lot in front of the Reliant Center, and this year, for the first time on the show floor, will be the Ram Truck brand Test Track offering an interactive test-track outfitted for the North American Truck of the year, the RAM 1500 pickup truck. Show goers can also experience the return of Camp Jeep’s Four-Wheel Drive Adventure, which includes a “Kids Fun Zone” for children to play and test out their own vehicles, while the adults have fun in the “real deal”.
“The 2014 Houston Auto Show will be our largest show yet,” said Wyatt Wainwright, President of Houston Automobile Dealers Association.  “Manufacturers are bringing out the best of their vehicles for 2014, along with miles of aftermarket displays, to guarantee there is something for everyone, and it really is okay to stare.”
Open daily, Wednesday, Jan.22 through Sunday, Jan.26, show hours are Wed.-Friday, noon to 9:30 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children ages 5 and under.  (All children must be accompanied by an adult).  $2 off discount coupons are available online and at participating Houston area new car dealerships.  For more information, visit www.HoustonAutoShow.com.

K. Thornhill Coleman

Finding the beautiful, ‘know it all’ product specialists for the 2014 North American International Auto Show takes a wide net

At every turn, the Haute is team found Gail & Rice product specialists hard at work and making Kelsy Puffer, National Recruitment Director for Gail & Rice (above), proud. We ran into Puffer, making her rounds on the auto show floor, just after the reveal of the new 2015 Chrysler 200. (Photo by Michael Anthony)

At every turn, the Haute is team found Gail & Rice product specialists hard at work and making Kelsy Puffer, National Recruitment Director for Gail & Rice (above), proud. We ran into Puffer, making her rounds on the auto show floor, just after the reveal of the new 2015 Chrysler 200.
(Photo by Michael Anthony)

January 14, 2014, DETROIT — Kelsy Puffer is on the hunt.

She’s looking for the next hot new talent, and Puffer’s willing to go to the far corners of the earth to find them. But as National Recruitment Director for Gail & Rice, she’s had just as much luck right here in the U.S. Gail & Rice, a Detroit-based company, is one of the top agencies for auto shows, events and entertainment production in the world, and one of their specialties is hiring and training top-notch product specialists for auto shows like the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. Kelsy tells us just prior to the press days her take on the behind the scenes world of auto show magic, and how she manages it all with ease.

Question: National Recruitment Director sounds like such a big title, what is a recruitment director as it pertains to the automotive world?

Kelsy: At Gail & Rice I am responsible for scouting, recruiting, and placement of new talent for auto shows, trade shows, special events, promotional events, and a wide variety of other events, depending on each individual client’s needs on both a local and national level. For automotive clients specifically, we look to recruit talent to work a variety of different positions, such as product specialists, presenters, promotional specialists, lead generator, etc.

Question: Gail & Rice has a very distinguished name. Can you say a little about the company and how long you been a part of the team?

Kelsy: Gail & Rice was the first to bring cars and people together by staffing automotive displays in the 1950s. Since then, we have blossomed into a full-service experiential marketing and communications agency, providing anything from dealer announcement meetings and vehicle launch programs to corporate entertainment and sales meeting creation and production.

I have been with the company since July 2012. I work with so many talented and creative people at Gail & Rice. On an average day I might hear a meeting going on in the conference room next to me where people are yelling out ideas for an upcoming event and they begin writing them all over our dry erase walls. Our office definitely has an agency feel to it.

QuestionI am sure a lot of our readers would like to know how the auto show process works as whole, so in a quick synopsis can you give us a brief breakdown?

Kelsy:  Some of our talent is recruited off of various social media venues, but a bulk of our new talent comes from referrals from those who have worked with us before. Gail & Rice prides itself on supplying talent that we have either met in person or conducted some type of interview whether it is via phone or Skype. I travel across the country each year to some of the major markets, such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami, conducting face to face auditions to see if they would be a good fit for one of our auto show teams or experiential events. When it is time to select candidates for the coming auto show season, typically beginning in May, we meet with the client whether it be Chrysler, Honda, etc. to go over their staffing needs that are based on gender, ethnicity, experience, language skills, appearance, and geographic locations. We then present the candidates who we think would be the best fit for a particular brand and hold a live or Skype audition with the client. From there, they make their selections on who they would like on their team for the coming circuit. Once teams are selected, they are put through an intense 3 to 5 day long training, which includes both classroom and hands-on styles of learning about that brand. Talent will then be fitted for wardrobe and given their schedules for the first part of the season, which runs from September through April. Between these months, there will be about 65 national auto shows across North America. Their travel is coordinated by us prior to the show, so when say the Boston Auto Show comes up, they are able to make it to their determined auto show and do their duties as either a product specialist, narrator, or both. If the talent receives positive feedback from their team leads, clients, etc., they will typically be asked back for the following year.

QuestionWhat do you look for in new or upcoming talent that would make them a good fit for this kind of work?

Kelsy: There are quite a few different things that I look for when placing talent on auto show teams. Every manufacturer has a different demographic, culture, and vibe so I try to make sure they are good fit for the brand. Take Kia for instance, since they market to a younger demographic I try to find someone youthful and energetic. Then take Lincoln. I would look for someone with sophistication and elegance. Not only do we look for physical attractiveness, but all candidates must be willing to learn their product and have great interpersonal skills. We like it when talents have a background in sales, promotions, or customer service because that means they have some experience talking with the public. For our Narrator roles, we like to see talent who have experience with acting, broadcasting, or live presentation so they are comfortable reciting a memorized script in front of a large group of people.  Then, like any other job, I try to get a sense of someone’s work ethic. We are looking for talent that is going to show up on time, know their product, and do a great job for the brand they are representing.

QuestionWhat are your greatest challenges and greatest triumphs in your job?

Kelsy:  I think a biggest challenge in my position is finding reliable talent. I think it is the greatest feeling when I place someone on a new team and they are so grateful for the work. Being on the auto show circuit is a fun job, so being able to provide someone with this cool experience is great. Our talents really do love what they do so when someone comes back to me after they have started working the auto shows and thanks me for work – I feel accomplished, like I did my job.

Question: We see lots of amazing clothes on the models and presenters. Can you give us the scoop on wardrobe and how the great looks are selected for each season?

Kelsy: Our account executives typically sit down with the manufacturer before the season begins to discuss the wardrobe for the year. We receive their input on what direction they would like to go in and then we try to mirror the brand with the wardrobe we select. Together we look at the coming trends for not just the fall, but what will be in for next spring as well since the teams wear these outfits September through April.  Using our expertise, we pick out a variety of options from stores like Neiman Marcus for the manufacturer to choose from. We tend to pick high-quality materials because they need to withstand heavy usage, travel, dry cleaning, etc.  Many of the brands tend to go for fitted suits or dresses as options.  A big trend over the last few years has been the incorporation of leather. It is always fun to go to some of the first shows of the season to see what each brand chose for their wardrobe.

I really want to thank Kelsy for taking time out of her super busy schedule to update and inform us on the inner workings of the NAIAS circuit.

(Following the press days, Jan. 13-14, the 2014 North American International Auto Show will open to the public Jan.18-26, at Cobo Center in Detroit. Tickets for the public days are $13 for adults; $7 for senior citizens and children between 7-12 years old; and free for children 6 and under.)

R. Lett

After first press day, there’s only one conclusion — count on the new, exciting at the Detroit Auto Show

Ford reveals the 2015 F-150 at the Joe Louis Arena (2014 North American International Auto Show)

Ford reveals the 2015 F-150 at the Joe Louis Arena (2014 North American International Auto Show)

The first press day at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit sadly came to an end, but there were a few experiences that stayed with us: Ford’s reveal of the 2015 F-150 in the Joe Louis Arena, breakfast strudel from the Smart team, the 2015 Chrysler 200 press kit, Sushi at the Nissan stand, after lunch coffee, tea and cinammon pastries at the Volvo display, watching the dancing assembly-line robotic arms in the Ford F-150 display, walking through the Mustang exhibit, Kelly Rowland with Mercedes and once again this year, charging our phones in the Chevy stand while walking around the new Corvettes.

Ford reveal of the F-150  at Joe Louis Arena

Ford reveal of the F-150 at Joe Louis Arena

Ford Reveals the 2015 F-150 at 2014 North American International Auto Show

Ford Reveals the 2015 F-150 at 2014 North American International Auto Show

2015 Ford F-150 reveal in the Joe

At the Joe Louis Arena, on the same floor where the Red Wings play, Ford unveiled the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 — and it was huge. The back drop was spread across the length of the floor. From the stands, the Ford executives looked miniature, but their message was clear: Everything about this truck is big. The only experience I can compare it to is being in an IMAX theater with 3D glasses watching Star Wars. The graphics were phenomenal. Three trucks bursting through paper walls was clever. We all agreed, it was one of the best reveals among all the automakers that we’ve seen in years. We will be showing video highlights of the reveal soon.

Breakfast strudel

After the Ford reveal, we were wandering around the show, taking in the bright lights, looking for the new and unusual when someone from the Smart team asked if we would like a breakfast strudel. Now that was something unusual from Smart. Their display is always bright and inviting, probably the most contemporary in the show. Back to the strudel, I was looking for something sweet, like apple or blueberry, but instead, it had an egg filling with bean sprouts on top. Delicious.


2015 Chrysler 200 press kit with Pewabic Pottery tile

2015 Chrysler 200 press kit with Pewabic Pottery tile

Press kit and pottery

Later, after the Chrysler 200 reveal – nice looking new design, especially the interior by the way – we picked up the press kit jewel of the show. Yes it had all the information you needed for the show, but the treasure inside was the Pewabic Pottery tile. That’s a keepsake. A Detroit treasure and tradition, Pewabic Pottery was founded in 1903 and is now a fixture of Detroit history (www.pewabic.org)

2015 Chrysler 200

2015 Chrysler 200

2014 Corvette Stingray

2014 Corvette Stingray

My phone is dead; another sweet Corvette

About mid-day, we had a deja-vu moment. It happened last year – once again we found ourselves charging our phones in the Chevy stand. It’s a popular spot as Chevy offers chargers for practically every model phone. Thanks, Chevy. Of course, with a little time on our hands, we had to sit in the 2014 Corvette Stingray, the 2014 Car of the Year, and walk around the new 2015 Corvette C7.R and Corvette Z06. I think that was planned.

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Shutter Bus at the 2014 North American International Auto Show

Throwback to the Sixties

As we walked toward the Buick stand, two energic hippies jumped out from behind a 1963 Greenbrier bus looking for candidates for the shutter booth. Outside the bus was a variety of hats, scarves, funny signs, glasses, a steering wheel and other props. The idea is to dress up with your friends, get in and take a bunch of pictures. They will be around for public days starting Jan. 18.

Nissan and Sushi

The Nissan stand caught the intern’s eye and we went over to see the vehicles on display and take a rest.

Sushi at the Nissan Stand

Sushi at the Nissan Stand

Before we knew it, a woman approached us with plates of sushi, ginger and wasabi and a pair of chop sticks. Who could resist.

Coffee, tea and Volvo

With cinammon pastries, course. In the Volvo display, as we stopped for expresso and Earl Grey tea, we added this stand to our list of favs. Not too many cars and trucks crowded in like a parking lot, the vehicles were spread appropriately around clean, open space. The wood-trimmed beams and contemporary wooden lounge chairs and sofas were a symbol of Volvo’s heritage, yet contemporary design and advanced technology. It was a pleasing space.

Robotic arms in the Ford stand

Robotic arms in the Ford stand

Dancing robotic arms

The F-150 display is one of the shows newest displays. When we approached it from the rear, it didn’t look like much. But when we turned the corner we couldn’t help but stop and watch the moving robotic arms. Timed and choreographed, it looked as if they were dancing. Fun.  

Mustang display in the Ford stand

Mustang display in the Ford stand

Mustang memories

My first car was a 1970 Mustang so I’m always drawn to anything Mustang, especially the most recent models. Don’t miss the Mustang display on the upper level in the Ford stand. A lot of cool Mustang vintage memorabilia, nice lay out, the exhibit takes you “back in the day” when Mustang was muscle royalty.

Mustang product specialists ready for the crowds

Mustang product specialists ready for the crowds

Always something new and exciting at the Detroit Auto Show each year. During the Mercedes press conference, we could hear Kelly Rowland – you know, Beyonce’s cousin – singing, and see her on the big screen. And when it was time for lunch, we ventured to the new food court. It’s definitely a step in the right direction and I found my salad.

Between the cars, entertainment, food court and displays, there’s always something new to experience.

Later this week, we’ll bring you highlights of the cars and trucks reveals.


K. Thornhill Coleman and Olivia Ewing

Automakers ‘bringing it’ to the 2014 Detroit auto show with all-new cars, trucks and concepts

Lexus RC F Coupe to be unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Lexus RC F Coupe to be unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

(Following the press days, Jan. 13-14, the 2014 North American International Auto Show will open to the public Jan.18-26, at Cobo Center in Detroit. Tickets for the public days are $13 for adults; $7 for senior citizens and children between 7-12 years old; and free for children 6 and under.)

More automakers using livestreaming to broadcast unveilings to anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone

January 12, 2013, DETROIT — Just one more day before the first “press day” reveals at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

This past week the media has been talking up just what to expect from both the foreign and domestic automakers. We’ve been reading the reports and checking in with the different car and truck makers, and while some reveals remain top secret, hush hush, there’s no doubt the anticipation is high. Here’s what we’re excited about today, but we’ll have more to share on Monday:

It’s just human nature – the fast and luxurious are always the first to catch your eye. The folks at General Motors (GM) and Chevy have a couple of surprises up their sleeves for the enthusiasts, and anyone else with a pulse, as they plan to reveal the all-new Chevrolet Racing Corvette, called the C7.R, and the 2015 Corvette Z06 on Monday. The audience at Cobo Center will be mostly media, but the rest of the world can watch Chevy pull back the covers from the comfort of their homes, offices or just about anywhere with a smartphone, as GM plans to livestream the unveilings at chevy.com/Z06reveal starting at 9:30 a.m.

Three new BMW models will make their debut at the Detroit show – the BMW 2 Series Coupe, which is a new model series for BMW, replacing the 1 Series Coupe, and what we are particular waiting to see, the BMW M3 Sedan and BMW M4 Coupe. According to a GTSpirit.com, a few lucky people who were on the street at the right time and place, saw the M4 Coupe being driven around in the melting snow this weekend around Cobo Center. See the pics at http://www.gtspirit.com/2014/01/11/2014-bmw-m4-spotted-on-the-streets-of-detroit/.

And then there’s the Lexus RC F Coupe, which is not its official name, but that’s coming soon. Now with only two doors, the company promises “uncompromising performance” and a lot of grit. We’ll see more when we get a closer look on Monday. The global reveal at the 2014 North American International Auto Show will also be streamed live online at www.lexus-int.com/. You can follow #AsphaltUp for details.

Porsche 911 Targa will be unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Porsche 911 Targa will be unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

We love the classics, and Porsche says it’s bringing back one of its own with the Porsche 911 Targa concept during its press conference on Monday. “Echoing the design of the original 911 Targa of 1965, the new model features the distinctive Targa bar, a movable center roof section and a wrap-around rear window combined with innovative technical solutions that make it a true modern classic,” according to the press release.

Daimler AG will unveil on Sunday its all-new C-Class. But back to Monday, we can’t wait to see what the Ford Motor Company has done with F-150, as the Internet has been a buzz about plans to unveil the long-awaited 2015 model. And like Ford, Chrysler Group LLC is trying to keep things under cover. The company is inviting consumers and media alike to view live webcasts of their unveiling of an all-new Chrysler Brand vehicle on Monday as well from 9:25 a.m.-9:50 a.m. EST, webcast link:  https://new.livestream.com/chryslerlive/Chrysler2014NAIAS.

Other unveilings expected at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show on Monday and Tuesday:

Volvo Concept XC Coupe

Audi Q1 Concept

Kia GT4 Stinger Concept

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

2015 Honda Fit

2015 Subaru WRX STI

2015 Hyundai Genesis

VW Golf R

VW Electric Concept

2015 Audi A8

2015 Audi Q3

2014 Limited Scion Monogram Series

2014 Dodge Dart Blacktop

2014 Ram Mossy Oak

K. Thornhill Coleman


Old “Cobo Hall” flaunts an all-new look for the 2014 North American International Auto Show

The Atrium at Cobo Center overlooks the Detroit River and Canada

The Atrium at Cobo Center overlooks the Detroit River and Canada

With Cobo Center renovations nearly complete, the Detroit Auto Show looks better than ever

January 10, 2014, DETROIT — The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) gets better each year. It’s the pride of Detroit. But while the auto show is the big story of the day, the other big story is its location, location, location – Cobo Center.

Every year, you can feel the buzz as media, consumers, enthusiasts, automakers take part in the most anticipated auto show of the year. For 2014, the NAIAS officials expect the auto show to be even better than last year, where nearly 800,000 people attended – the largest attendance in almost a decade.

But every great show must have a great venue, and while there’s still more work to be done, the transformation at Cobo Center is impressive. The $299 million renovation project that began in 2010 will be complete in 2015, and soon we won’t be able to recognize the old “Cobo Hall,” something that’s long overdue. There wasn’t much to see last year, but for 2014, with renovations nearly 80 percent complete, that’s all changed.

Renovations at Cobo Center, Detroit, in time for the auto show

Renovations at Cobo Center, Detroit, in time for the auto show

So what happened when they gutted Cobo Arena? What was once a 12,000-seat arena for concerts and sports is now the 40,000-square-foot Grand Riverview Ballroom, with 21 additional meeting rooms and a 30,000-square-foot glass atrium overlooking the Detroit River.

I had a chance to see the atrium after it was completed in September of last year. One word: Gorgeous. The Grand Riverview Ballroom has a capacity of 3,500 for theater style and 2,250 for banquets; hydraulic lift stage for dramatic introductions or product reveals; 40-foot ceiling height with rigging grid throughout; movable partitions with maximum sound baffling; dramatic lighting effects; strong Internet bandwidth available, including Wi-Fi and hard wired access points; and 21,000-square-foot meeting space directly below.

They had me at “strong Internet bandwidth,” as this has always been an issue at Cobo Center, both inside and outside the exhibit hall.

The atrium, which has an open view from the main concourse of the Detroit River and Canada, is breathtaking. It’s three stories high, with two floors and a mezzanine. Cobo Center has always boasted being one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America, with 722,500 square feet of exhibit space, and the 19th largest convention center in the country. With these renovations, the facility has even more functional space for the annual big auto show and its exhibitors.

Renovations at Cobo Center, Detroit, in time for the auto show

Renovations at Cobo Center, Detroit, in time for the auto show

Now that there’s more functional space, Cobo Center must address another big issue.  Finding something to eat while working the show during press days, or during public days, has always been a challenge. With limited offerings, most were forced out into the frigid Detroit streets in search of a real breakfast, lunch or snack.

During the NAIAS public days this year, four new food shops will be opening, each featuring Detroit-inspired cuisine. They are promising healthier options like gluten-free foods, fresh vegetables and grass-fed beef for burgers. The fare includes dill pickle soup, city “chicken,” Dudek’s pierogis, Kowalski kielbasa, Dearborn franks, and produce from Eastern Market.

And to think, all I wanted was a decent salad.

The new 8,000-square-foot Detroit Made Kitchen is inside the new main entrance to Cobo Center, near the Grand Riverview Ballroom.

With good food and a beautiful venue, NAIAS and Cobo Center officials may be right: this year could be the best Detroit Auto Show yet.

By K. Thornhill Coleman