The Motor City Auto Show is the world’s largest, and this year was no exception. The whole world was watching to see how car companies would balance bailouts with breakthroughs. MINI chose a breakthrough. Literally.
It’s the first international auto show of the year and the largest in the world, but this year – for the first time – automakers had to ride a very fine line. Too much of their traditional excess at the show would be grossly insensitive in the face of billion dollar bailouts, rampant unemployment and growing public distrust. Too little “show” however, and why bother showing up?
We’re talking about 121,000 square feet on the main floor of Detroit’s massive Cobo Center, where 56 new models – 44 of them making their world debut – would be on display for 6,800 journalists from 60 countries and an estimated 700,000 consumers over several weeks.
So what’s a car company to do?
Chrysler decided against turning the old firehouse opposite the Cobo Center into a beer hall again this year…and the 120 head of cattle and posse of whipcrackin’ cowboys it used last year to introduce its revamped Ram pickup were nowhere to be seen.
GM eschewed the Kid Rock, Mary J. Blige celebrity routines.
Nissan and Porsche skipped the venue all together.
Which brings us to poor little MINI. Here they had a breakthrough new Convertible with a top that could be lowered at up to 20 mph. They rid the body of those unsightly support pillars, improving storage capacity and convenience. They even added an Openometer, so drivers could determine exactly how much time they spent open air motoring. This is breakthrough stuff, but it’s also a convertible, in January, in Detroit.
So what’s a little car company to do? If you’re MINI, you treat a breakthrough like a breakthrough and come bursting through a wall of (fake) ice to introduce your new model and let Winter be damned!
Some car companies are just cooler than others, I guess.
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