March brings many things to Minneapolis, melting snow, warmer weather, usually at least one large snow storm, and of course, the Minneapolis Auto Show. This year the automakers were in full force. Both Porsche and BMW returned to the show, sadly Infiniti was still notably absent. Without further delay, lets jump in and take a look at the winners, losers and just some general observations of the show.
Ford without question was a huge winner at the show. The crowds were constantly huge at this booth throughout the day. There was a ton of positive buzz surrounding the new 2012 Focus which consumers seemed genuinely impressed with. Ford also had not one, but two 2012 Mustang Boss 302s sitting on the show floor, though both were locked. Surprisingly, a Mustang GT seemed to be receiving more attention. I’m not sure if people simply didn’t know what the Boss 302 was or if it was simply because the Boss 302s were locked, and the GT model wasn’t. Of course Ford had the very cool Mustang pool table on display and I overheard many people ask Ford representatives how they could purchase one. I did see a gentleman look at the Taurus SHO and he seemed impressed, until he saw the sticker price. It was clear he was shocked. All in all Ford might not only be a winner at this show, but the largest winner.
The Hyundai booth was another major winner. I was surprised how many people seemed interested in the Equus, though from I hear what sales are already exceeding expectations. The new Genesis R-Spec 5.0 was on display looking just gorgeous. I did overhear someone say how they actually liked the colored wheels on the Veloster, which I am personally mixed on. Many people seemed enamored with the Sonata, especially the Sonata Turbo. Though with 274-horsepower and a 34 MPG rating on the highway, it’s hard not to be impressed.
Buick had a LaCrosse with eAssist dashboard buck with front seats in its display. This gave consumers the opportunity to “sit in” the new LaCrosse eAssist and play with the dashboard controls. Buick also featured both the 2012 Regal GS and 2012 Verano Turbo. The booth prefessional on stage reiterated what we heard leak out already, the Verano Turbo will feature 250-horsepower from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Combined with a six-speed manual transmission, the Verano Turbo is shaping up to possibly be a very fun car to drive. It’s worth noting this engine will likely trickle up to the Regal Turbo giving it a nice power bump .This also likely means the Regal GS will get a slight power boost within a year or two after launching.
At the Chevrolet booth I paid close attention to how consumers were reacting to the new Volt. While it has gone on sale already, it is not currently offered in the Minnesota market (yet). Chevrolet had a booth professional on a turntable going over some of the Volt’s features and selling points. After she was done I witnessed many confused consumers asking questions. It quickly became very clear that explaining to people how the Volt works is not an easy task. Consumers seemed confused as to whether this was an electric car or hybrid. Chevrolet definitely has its work cut out when it comes to informing non-car enthusiasts as to the details of the Volt.
AutoMotorPlex actually hosted a section called the Ultimate Garage. It built a structure that housed four separate garages, each featured a different look and feel. The goal was to showcase what the AutoMotorPlex offers, and to give consumers an idea of what the ultimate garage, or commonly referred to as “man cave,” can truly look like.
In the aftermarket room there were a handful of customized vehicles. Let’s be clear about something, LeRoys Customs apparently thinks a string of LEDs stuck onto the outside of a GMC Sierra headlight with double stick tape is OK.
I’ve got to say, this years Minneapolis Auto Show was even better than last years. With more manufactures on the floor, more unique aspects to the show, and more enthusiasm from the consumers, the show seems like a huge success. I heard that the Minneapolis Auto Show board is already looking into ways to take things a step further next year. I look forward to seeing what they comes up with.