2022 North American International Auto Show Pictures

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2022 was the first year of the North American International Auto Show coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first year the show was moved to September. The change was actually scheduled for September 2021 however with the 2021 show cancelled, that never happened. The show has also been "re-imagined" as a "mobility innovation" show. And it was a bit weird. The first thing I noticed upon entering the show was the lack of content. Many manufacturers were missing entirely (such as Mazda). The show floor was artificially spacious not only due to social distancing trends but clearly due to lack of stuff to fill that space. Then my field of vision was immediately dominated by a display by a company I had never heard of by the name ASX. We'll get back to ASX.

Outside, an enormous inflatable rubbery ducky sat in front of a monster truck show, which made the experience a little surreal. Some vendors also lined the area (after having to walk through security) and there was fine selection of local food trucks (which I will make use of next time).

The show had venues throughout downtown Detroit in sort of a walking tour. Which I didn't attend, because why would I?

Back inside, some manufacturer displays were familiar from other shows such as the Jeep off-road course and the Ford electric vehicle mini-track.

Unsurprisingly EVs were the focus of the show. I still find it amazing that we live in a time where we have the option to walk into almost any dealer and have our choice between multiple models of EV. Every manufacturer had at least one new EV option at the show. The most bizarre example of this was the Dodge Charger Daytona Banshee concept with its "Fratzonic" exhaust system. Yes, I said that correctly; Dodge built an EV with an exhaust system. Not knowing anything about the history of Dodge, I learned that the "Fratzog" is the delta logo Dodges from the '60s to the early '80s. And therefore a "Fratzonic" exhaust system is just the name of what is essentially a speaker in a resonating chamber, exiting the rear bumper through a trumpet like opening. At first I thought it was a joke. Who would ever think it is a good idea to add a noisemaker to the ass end of an EV? Perhaps the same mentality of the person responsible for Tesla horns making farting noises? But no, it is in fact a real thing that will enter production. As the Dodge presentation continued, it got stranger. Apparently the Charger Daytona Banshee has a transmission as well. Not a real one, but instead the powertrain has been programmed to mimic transmission shift patterns during acceleration. Because there's nothing we want more than to break up the smooth, linear, almost magical feeling of flooring an EV to add software-simulated shifting bumps.

When the "Fratzonic" sound was demonstrated, it was loud. And I mean, obnoxiously loud. Over 100dB. It sounded a bit like someone took an electric drill, lowered the tone, added a background 60Hz hum, then mixed in the electronic simulation of an angry cat moaning. In other words, stupid. And the crowd cheered. Well, I guess Dodge knows their market.

The featured marque was the Ford Mustang. I learned that the 1993 Mustang GT Convertible came with a 320HP 5.0 litre inline 4 cylinder. Huh.

With the EV focus of the show, Harbinger Motors had a large display showing their commercial EV chassis. Designed for commercial vehicles like delivery vans, they seem to have a real life viable product and I saw a lot of interest from people who are obviously in the market for such vehicles. I wonder about the name "Harbinger" though. Perhaps they are trying to signal a change in commercial vehicles? Ford is trying to do the same with their F-150 Lightening. This show was the first time I have been able to see one in real life. Yes, there were the typical comments however reception seemed to be relatively positive overall. And now I'm actually seeing them on the roads with regularity. If I was a contractor in need of a work truck, I'd consider it stupid to buy anything else just based on the cost of fuel alone.

I walked back to the ASX display to take a closer look. I'm just going to come right out and say it; in my opinion, ASX is a scam. Their display, while designed to be impressive, consisted of the stuff a few hundred thousand dollars and a team of people could produce to give the impression that an innovative product is being created. The crowed was entranced as their (empty) transport module moved in and out of it's cradle. Was I the only one to notice that it was simply following the white line on the floor? That's right, it was nothing more than a fancy box equipped with off the shelf industrial line following equipment. The same thing you've been able to find in warehouses for decades. Then one starts to notice their videos. Where 95% of the footage of their aircraft is computer rendered. Only a few seconds of their actual prototype is shown just as the props spin up for flight, then back to fantastic computer graphics. Nothing in their display was operating autonomously; there were cables from control stations to each of their demonstration units. Keeping in mind that these units are the only ones in existence. So it doesn't look like they are self powered. With their claimed 90 mile range at 200MPH, I simply do not see how they are going to be able to pack that much battery power into the wings and modules especially when one considers the power needed for vertical takeoff/landing.

Still, I wanted more information so I checked out their website when I got home. Which simply reinforced to me it is absolute scam. First, the big banner at the top asking the visitor to become stakeholder (with a minimum investment of $5000). Then, the first link is for "investors". The site is nearly a single page site; something that can be thrown together in a day. The site shows complete lack of any hard data. No specs, technical information, Containing very few real photographs of the vehicles it is mostly of the same computer rendered graphics. I especially like the triumphant TED talk like picture of CEO Jon Rimanelli clearly presenting some important information with his face in full wide-mouth bass mode and arms wide.

Now of course there is a chance I am completely wrong and in 5 years we will be all driving to ASX terminals for a quick areal hop to the next town. Naturally, in our Elios.

All day long at the show I experienced people stopping me and saying "Love your car!", "Nice car!" and the like. Needless to say I was extremely confused. Did they all follow my aaroncake YouTube Channel? Seems unlikely. Then as I approached the far exit, the reason became obvious. By coincidence I had worn my "DMC - DeLorean Motor Company" t-shirt. And DeLorean #16300 was sitting by the door. Kind of a funny coincidence.

Beyond the door there was a Ghostbusters style "ECTO-1". I'm not sure what the story is there. It was the wrong year and none of the equipment was remotely like the movie. Someone's minimal-effort interpretation of "ECTO-1"? I guess that sounds a bit passive aggressive but my opinion is that if you are going to build a movie car, build the movie car.

Overall I did enjoy the new format show even though it was rather lean. We'll see what changes they make next year and if exhibitor attendance changes for the positive.

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