For execs, many ways to walk the auto show
Edward Lapham is executive editor of Automotive News.
Media days at an international auto show are as much about the people as they are about the cars on display.
The cars and trucks are what draw the people to auto shows. But you see a lot of the same executives, reporters and photographers whether the show is in Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing, Geneva or Detroit.
So it can be a lot like a family reunion or a town hall meeting.
Reuss: Sees the show with a car guy’s eyes
One day last week when I was at the Detroit auto show before the doors opened, I noticed General Motors' Mark Reuss walking through the show by himself, eyeballing the products that his competitors had on display. He seemed particularly interested in some of the products on the Chrysler-Fiat stand.
It's not unusual for executives, especially hard-core car guys like Reuss, to visit the competition to see what's new. But his style was different from the way other GM honchos have toured auto shows.
For example, you used to see former CEO Rick Wagoner touring the show with a product-savvy GM PR guy who was coaching his boss on the finer points of automotive design. It was a good-faith attempt by a finance guy who was trying to become more of a car guy.
And then there was the Bob Lutz method.
It was common to see Lutz leading an entourage of a dozen or more GM engineers through a show, pointing out what he considered notable product features on the offerings of various competitors. The famously opinionated car guy almost seemed a docent guiding students through a museum of modern art.
Maybe Reuss was just reconnoitering so he could lead his own grand tour of the show with other GM execs.
But he sure looked like a guy out for a stroll -- a guy who thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing. After all, that is what the car business is all about.
You can reach Edward Lapham at email@example.com.