David Phillips
David Phillips
Automotive News Online Managing Editor

Hopes run high as Detroit show draws near

Workers prepare the Infiniti stage ahead of the 2014 North American International Auto Show on Thursday.

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
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U.S. light-vehicle sales are up. Suppliers are back on solid ground. The government is formally out of the auto business. Automakers are spending more money -- on auto show exhibits, it appears. Even Cobo Center is spruced up and ready for prime time.

The stage is set for the 2014 edition of the Detroit auto show -- severe cold temps and snow aside -- and expectations are riding high.

"It's a good time to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the North American International Auto Show," Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, said Thursday during a preview of the 2014 show at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

His biggest headache? Prepping for Vice President Joe Biden's scheduled visit on Wednesday morning. The whole house has to be swept in advance by the Veep's security detail.

Look for Biden, a Corvette owner, to visit the Chevy stand to check out the new Z06.

That's the same time dealers will get a chance to privately preview the show.

Alberts said ticket sales for the dealer preview should hit 450, up from 250 in 2013, the first year dealer tours were offered. And about half of those dealers are expected to come from outside the Detroit area, Alberts said.

The Cadillac display comes together Thursday.

Photo credit: GM

With the number of media credentials tracking 10 percent above 2013, 3 days before the start of press previews, show organizers expect to exceed the 5,212 journalists that attended last year.

Of note, there are new journalists credentialed from Ecuador, Hungary, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay this year; while journalists from Namibia, Luxembourg and Nigeria are no shows, so far, this year.

On Wednesday and Thursday, some 25,000 to 30,000 people -- most of them engineer types from suppliers -- are expected to attend Industry Days.

There are lots of changes on the show floor. Chrysler Group plans the biggest Mopar exhibit ever. At the Cadillac stand, the venerable wreath is gone from the crest.

Lexus, Mazda, Acura, Audi and Mercedes plan significantly new displays. And like every year in recent memory, more monster video screens will adorn the walls.

And then there are the new cars and trucks. And no doubt, a few surprises.

Cue the red carpet and fire up the spotlight.

You can reach David Phillips at dphillips@crain.com.

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