And there was something noteworthy in that, too.
In the past, it had been routine for many automotive journalists attending the show to give short shrift to product offerings from Lincoln, the luxury division of Ford Motor Co. But this year’s Lincoln presentation, hosted by William Clay “Bill” Ford Jr. and Alan R. Mulally, respectively the company’s executive chairman and president/chief executive, played to a huge standing-room-only crowd.
The immediate attraction was the Lincoln MkC concept vehicle — a swanky crossover-utility/
wagon that promises to add a considerable amount of panache and technological sophistication to an all-too-often dour family transportation segment.
But more important was the dual assertion by Ford and Mulally that a reborn Lincoln, now formally called the Lincoln Motor Co., is here to stay. The executives said that the mother company will nurture Lincoln with all of the money and design and engineering talent it needs to remain alive and competitive.
They’ll have to keep that promise. There are rivals aplenty competing for the luxury-car market, among them upstarts such as South Korea’s Hyundai and the still-struggling but determined Tesla electric-car company.
Hyundai showed off its HCD-14 luxury concept car, a vehicle as odd in appearance as its nomenclature. Instead of “odd,” let us just call it downright ugly — a wide-mouthed, shark-faced behemoth masquerading as modern automotive design. Here’s hoping it remains a concept only.
But California-based Tesla is moving in the right direction, which is why I join Motor Trend magazine in crowning Tesla’s Model S the Car of the Year. Tesla’s executives say they want to remove “every hurdle there is to people driving the electric car.” The sleek yet accommodating Model S goes a long way in that direction. Through Tesla’s recharging technology (which the company calls “supercharging” in reference to electrical recharging only) the Model S can be powered up to run 150 miles after a 30-minute plug-in. That’s remarkable.
And then there is the Tesla Model X, a crossover-utility/wagon highlighted by its rear “Falcon Doors,” which rise upward at the push of a key-fob button to grant easy access to rear-seat passengers.
Inside the Model X is a multi-configurable 17-inch screen that effectively renders the car a motorized iPad.
In a meeting room on the third floor of Cobo Center, I was among the journalists meeting with executives of Continental Automotive Group, a global automotive supplier and product-research company planning to change the automobile as we know it.