It's January in Detroit, and the palpable excitement in the air can only be one thing.
No, it's not "We Love The Mayor Day". Get real.
No, folks, it's the North American Auto Show. This is the big dog-and-pony show. This is the CES for the automotive industry. This is the gathering of the sharpest minds with the coolest designs for vehicles ever assembled on a show floor.
And it's the largest collection of models you'll never be able to take home. I mean the car models. The prototype cars. Sheesh, I can't take you anywhere.
I've never quite understood the whole allure of the North American Auto Show. Here is the finest chance for the automotive industry to show people their greatest products. This is the time for companies to see what will fly with consumers, and what won't.
What usually steals the show are the concept cars: the cars that look like they took a page out of Syd Mead designs. The really, really cool futuristic designs, with the "dashboard of the future", that get 500MPG on a droplet of spit.
Then there's the rest of the cars. The consumer models that look like a Taurus with an overbite. The cars that fail to excite, impress, or otherwise stir any emotion whatsoever. The cars that are greeted with polite golf applause, and the tacit hope that some concept car is just around the corner.
Why aren't there more concept cars out there in the wild? What happens to these concept cars after the show?
One theory I have is the concept cars ARE released, but not in a form that you or I can enjoy. They go through successive focus groups, cost reductions, and safety tests to make them consumable. They go from a car-aficionado's wet-dream to... well... a Taurus with an overbite.
Some of the technology does make it into consumer hands. I'm pretty impressed that Ford and Microsoft managed to bring SYNC to market. That looks like a pretty cool technology, although I wonder if it would be able to cope with some of my albums. I'm sure saying "Play Cadaverous Mastication" might throw it for a fit. (And I have no clue how it might handle Aphex Twin's "drukqs". I can see it now: "Play jynweythek. Jynweythek. Play jynweythek. Ahh, fuck it. No, don't play that! Stop!").
Less concepts. More cars. And please make sure these concept cars become real cars.