When Ford CEO Alan Mulally steps up to deliver the keynote at the start of the New York International Auto Show on April 1, he will look out at an audience that has been transformed since his first speech there in 2007.
The past two years have been ones of seminal change for the United States’ auto industry. Mulally, chief of the only "big three" automaker not to file for bankruptcy, could be forgiven for dwelling on Ford’s success against the odds. But the man credited with turning around the blue oval is likely to look instead to the future, pointing out the exciting innovations from his firm - and many others - on display at the show.
The New York show bills itself as the best attended auto show in the United States, although as it doesn’t release figures, that claim is hard to verify. For almost all automakers, it is the region where they sell the most cars - 841,035 vehicles were registered in 2008, compared to the 599,320 in Los Angeles, 321,933 in Chicago and 315,299 in Detroit, America’s capital of cars.
The sales figures mean that manufacturers put a strong emphasis on the experience they hope will lead to the purchase. Jeep, for example, is building "Camp Jeep," a 25,000-square-foot exhibit designed to show off the Jeep’s ruggedness on an urban obstacle course. Over 1,000 other vehicles are expected to fill the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre, along with several high profile global or North American debuts.
Infiniti has confirmed that it will launch its QX56 SUV, whilst the Lexus CT 200h will make its US debut after its Geneva unveiling earlier this month. Subaru is also set to introduce its revamped 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX lineup. Kia plans to unveil the 2010 Magentis and its new mid-size sedan the "K5." From Europe, BMW will host the North American debut the 5 Series and the global debut of its new Alpina B7 luxury vehicle.
New York also hosts the unveiling of the World Car Award, which will go to one of three finalists -- the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Toyota Prius or the Volkswagen Polo. The winner has been selected by a panel of 59 global automotive journalists and will be announced in conjunction with the lower profile World Performance Car Award, which counts the the Audi R8 V10, the Ferrari California and the Porsche 911 GT3 as contenders.
Organizers have also released the first ever smartphone app for a car show, providing news, photos, specs and maps from the show floor. Visitors can also book tickets using the free app, which is available for the iPhone on the iTunes store. Blackberry and Android users will be able to access the same information using the show's mobile website.
The 2010 New York International Auto Show is open to the public April 2 -11 at the Jacob K Javits Convention Center.
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