North American International Auto Show 2015: US OEMs

US automakers display confidence with luxury and performance models

2015/01/30

Summary

Ford's Innovation Park
View of Ford's Innovation Park
Crowds around the Ford GT
Crowds around the Ford GT

 The 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was held from January 12 through January 25, 2015, with the show being open to the public starting January 17. A total of 808,775 people attended the public show, the highest attendance over a twelve-year period.

 Detroit's recent emergence from bankruptcy combined with one of the automotive industry's best sales years emphasized the auto show's continuing themes of optimism and recovery. As such, the 2015 North American Auto Show demonstrated a greater degree of spectacle compared to shows from previous years. Exhibits from Ford and General Motors highlighted this quality with a large number of screens and interactive displays.

 The models shown by the Detroit Three further emphasized the confidence in the industry. Ford unveiled its new performance line by displaying the Ford GT and Shelby GT350R Mustang. GM debuted concept vehicles with the Chevrolet Bolt and Buick Avenir, along with luxury vehicles with the Buick Cascada and Cadillac CTS-V. FCA proudly demonstrated the return of Alfa Romeo in the US with the debut of the sporty 4C Spider.

 This report is the first of three reports which focus on the vehicles displayed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. This report will focus on vehicles showcased by US OEMs, specifically Ford, General Motors, and FCA. A second and third report will be released at a later date featuring models produced by European and Asian automakers respectively.

 
Related reports:
North American International Auto Show 2014
US OEMs: Optimism in US automakers highlighted by luxury, performance and innovation (Jan. 2014)

European OEMs: Performance and concept vehicles provide look into Europe's future plans (Feb. 2014)

Asian OEMs: Asian automakers display luxury models and state-of-the-art technologies (Feb. 2014)



Ford shows off new performance line featuring Ford GT and F-150 Raptor

 Reflecting the excitement and energy of its newly unveiled performance line, Ford's display demonstrated a degree of showmanship. Part of the company's exhibit featured a rest area called "Innovation Park" filled with trees and running water, showing how Ford was helping the environment. Two large video screens displayed racing games which visitors could play. All of this contributed to a confident atmosphere towards Ford's products and the automotive industry.

 

2017 Ford GT Supercar

Ford GT
Ford GT

 The surprise reveal of the new Ford GT supercar during Ford's press conference generated a significant amount of attention, which could be seen by the constant crowds gathered around the model during the show's preview days. Marking the 50th anniversary of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans where Ford GT race cars held the top 3 positions, the new Ford GT will serve as a modern version of a legacy of racing and performance.

 One of the main performance features of the new GT is its light-weighting characteristics. The GT features a carbon fiber passenger cell and carbon fiber body panels while the front and rear subframes of the vehicle are made from aluminum. Additionally, the driver and passenger seats are directly integrated into the passenger cell, further reducing the weight of the vehicle.

 Another key aspect of the Ford GT is its twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine. With an expected power of over 600 hp, the 3.5-liter mid-mounted engine will be combined with a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle transmission. Finally, the Ford GT features both passive and active aerodynamic systems to reduce drag and increase downforce and stability. Passive systems include its tear-drop shape and curved windshield while an active rear spoiler can adjust its height and angle based on driving conditions.

 Production of the Ford GT will begin in late 2016. Pricing details are currently unavailable, though the Ford GT is expected to compete with models such as the Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren 650S, and Ferrari 458 Special.

 

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Full-Size Pickup Truck

 As the high-performance version of the F-150 which debuted in Detroit last year, the F-150 Raptor has several features that enhance its off-road capabilities. Its frame has more high-strength steel than the previous Raptor. Meanwhile, the body is made from military-grade aluminum which weighs 500 pounds less than the F-150 Raptor's predecessor. The Raptor adds six inches of width to the standard F-150 for increased off-road stability.

 

Ford F-150 Raptor
Ford F-150 Raptor
Ford F-150 Raptor Interior
Ford F-150 Raptor Interior

 

 Another upgrade featured on the Raptor is the second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine paired with a ten-speed transmission. The engine will provide more power and torque than the previous Raptor's 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque. The F-150 Raptor will also feature a transfer case with a new version of Ford's off-road driver-assist technology. Drivers can choose between six preset modes based on terrain and driving conditions: Normal, Street, Weather, Mud, Baja, and Rock.

 Other systems that highlight the F-150 Raptor's offroad capabilities include standard FOX Racing suspension components, with larger front and rear shock canisters. An available Torsen front differential system helps improve the vehicle's grip. LED lighting and camera technology enhance visibility over all types of terrain.

 The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor will be available starting in the fall of 2016, and will be built at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan.

 

2016 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang Pony Car

Ford Shelby GT350R
Ford Shelby GT350R

 As another of the high-performance vehicles introduced as part of Ford's new performance line, the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang was developed to provide maximum track capability in a road-legal vehicle. In order to achieve this goal, engineers focused on lowering the vehicle's weight and improving its aerodynamics.

 The Shelby GT350R is the first production vehicle to have standard carbon fiber wheels. Compared to aluminum wheels of the same size, the carbon fiber wheels save approximately 13 pounds per wheel while having higher stiffness levels. Many features that would be considered standard on most vehicles have been removed to reduce weight, including air conditioning, stereo, rear seats, trunk floorboard and carpet. All of these efforts result in the Shelby GT350R being over 130 pounds lighter than the GT350.

 Features which improve the aerodynamics of the Shelby GT350R include a hood vent, underbody belly pans, diffuser, vented wheel wells and fender vents. A new carbon fiber rear wing improves the vehicle's downforce and shifts its center of pressure to the rear. The Shelby GT350R will have a 5.2-liter V8 engine with a flat-plane crankshaft, the first Ford vehicle with such an engine architecture. Mated with a six-speed manual transmission, the engine will produce over 500 hp and over 400 lb-ft of torque.

 The Ford Shelby GT350R will be produced in limited numbers and will be available in the US and Canada later in 2015. Production of the vehicle will be at Ford's plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.

 

2016 Lincoln MKX Crossover SUV

Lincoln MKX
Lincoln MKX

 Making its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, the new Lincoln MKX aims to strengthen Ford's luxury brand and attract a larger range of customers by offering more options. One of these choices involves the MKX's engine, with a standard 3.7-liter V6 producing 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, or an available 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 with 330 hp and over 370 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated with a six-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive.

 Available technology for the MKX includes a variety of driver assist systems such as adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering, pre-collision assist, and a new Auto Hold feature that allows the driver to release the brake pedal in traffic and keep the vehicle from moving. Safety options include a 360-degree camera, an ultrasonic sensing system utilizing 12 sensors for park-assist features, and adaptable LED headlamps that widen visibility while accelerating from lower speeds.

 The interior of the MKX also hosts a variety of options to choose from that enhance the comfort of the vehicle. Lincoln's recent partnership with Harman can be seen in the newly available Revel Ultima audio system. Front seats will be available with active motion sensors that control six adjustable air bladders in the seat cushion and five in the lower seat back.

 Sales will begin for the Lincoln MKX in fall 2015 for the US, with Canada, Mexico, China, South Korea, and the Middle East to follow. The Lincoln MKX is built in Oakville, Ontario, Canada Pricing information for the MKX is currently unavailable.

 

 



GM focuses on model range with Chevrolet Volt and Bolt concept, Cadillac CTS-V, and Buick Cascada

 GM's exhibits shared a similar sense of spectacle as Ford's displays, with its Chevrolet exhibit featuring six 20-foot-tall screens and its Buick display having an 82.5-foot LED wall. Despite its penchant for glamour, GM's offerings focused on a theme of the future, with green vehicles and concept cars that showed potential directions for the company.

 

2016 Chevrolet Volt Plug-In Hybrid Compact Car

 One of the most anticipated vehicles of the 2015 North American International Auto Show was the second-generation Chevrolet Volt. As the best selling plug-in vehicle in the US, the new Volt improves upon its predecessor in almost all aspects.

 Notably, the Voltec propulsion system has been improved in all areas. The battery capacity has been increased to 18.4 kWh despite using 192 cells compared to 288 in the previous Volt, reducing its weight by 21 pounds. The two-motor drive unit is 12 percent more efficient and weighs 100 pounds less than the current system. A 1.5-liter 4-cylinder range extender replaces the 1.4-liter engine and provides a combined fuel economy of 41 mpg. With features such as active grille shutters and a body made primarily of high-strength steel, the Volt is able to achieve a 50-mile electric-only range.

 

Chevrolet Volt
Chevrolet Volt
Chevrolet Volt Interior
Chevrolet Volt Interior

 

 Other changes to the Volt include its expanded seating to allow five passengers instead of four, a standard rear-vision camera, and improvements to the charging system. Owners can set their charging preferences to occur at specific times or only when the vehicle is at a home location. A status system will give an audio cue when charging begins, and an indicator light over the instrument panel can quickly show the charge level of the Volt.

 

Chevrolet Volt Interior Cutaway
Chevrolet Volt Interior Cutaway
Chevrolet Volt Engine
Chevrolet Volt Engine

 

 The 2016 Chevrolet Volt will go on sale in the second half of 2015. Production of the vehicle will take place at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Michigan, while the battery pack will be produced at the Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant in Michigan.

 

Chevrolet Bolt Electric Vehicle Concept

Chevrolet Bolt Concept
Chevrolet Bolt Concept

 Despite falling oil prices and the recent market trend towards larger vehicles, the unveiling of the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept reinforced GM's dedication towards EVs in the future. Designed to have a range of over 200 miles and cost starting at USD 30,000, the Chevrolet Bolt concept represents an all-electric vehicle for the general public, without a prohibitive price tag or range anxiety issues. Some analysts have speculated that the Bolt will serve as competition to Tesla's Model 3 in the future.

 In order to increase the Bolt's range, lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, and woven mesh are used. Vented rear fenders improve the Bolt's aerodynamics and add to its range. Stylistically, the Bolt utilizes a large amount of glass, including a full-length frosted glass roof, for both a distinct appearance and to increase the amount of natural light for the interior. A high beltline moves upward to an integrated roof spoiler to create a, "lean, athletic stance". High-intensity LED headlamps and taillamps are used with unique lenses to provide a signature lighting effect.

 The Bolt concept features a very short front and rear overhang, which maximizes the vehicle's interior space. Seats are specifically designed to be thinner and are mounted on aluminum pedestals to create a floating effect and give a roomier impression. The interior also uses lighter colors for a gentler, warmer atmosphere. A 10-inch color touch screen allows easy transmission of information from a smartphone.

 

2016 Buick Cascada Convertible

 Making its world premiere in Detroit, the rebadged Buick Cascada serves as the first Buick convertible offered in the US in 25 years. Formerly produced in Europe under Opel, the Cascada represents Buick's continued shift towards younger customers outside their average demographic.

 A 1.6-liter turbocharged engine provides 200 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque for the Cascada, with an overboost feature that can temporarily generate 221 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. Enhancing the driving experience is a HiPer Strut front suspension used in the LaCrosse and Regal which reduces torque steer and improves impact isolation. In the rear, a Watts Z-link suspension centers the rear axle while cornering, providing more balanced handling.

 

Buick Cascada
Buick Cascada
Buick Cascada Interior Display
Buick Cascada Interior Display

 

 As the Cascada was designed to be a convertible from the outset of its development, it features solutions to specific issues that convertibles face. A multilayered power roof system with acoustic and thermal barriers enhances the driver's comfort. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel also improve comfort in colder weather. An electronic rear-seat entry system powers the front seats forward by pressing on the seatback to ease entrance. The Cascada has 13.4 cubic feet of storage space with the top closed and 9.8 cubic feet with the top open.

 Sales for the 2016 Buick Cascada will begin in early 2016. The vehicle will be built in Gliwice, Poland and imported into the US.

 

Buick Avenir Concept Sedan

Buick Avenir Concept
Buick Avenir Concept

 The Buick Avenir concept represents the brand's effort in modernizing traditional Buick design and integrating it with advanced technology. As a tribute to models such as the Riviera, the Avenir concept has a long hood and a sloped rear deck. The Avenir is 204.5 inches long and 76 inches wide, and has a modernized sweep-spear spanning nearly the length of the car. Finally, the Avenir's grille design uses Buick's old tri-color shield logo, with two wing-shaped elements adorning the sides.

 One example of the technologies demonstrated by the Avenir is its driver-recognition capability, which it uses to customize instrument gauges and infotainment preferences. The Avenir is able to sync this information from the driver's smartphone. Also, the Avenir is able to integrate its technology with a driver's home, allowing a driver to access security cameras, turn on outdoor lights, or close garage doors. The center console features a Buick IntelliLink infotainment system which uses a 12-inch color touch screen. Rear-seat passengers have access to USB ports and video screens for additional entertainment options.

 

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Luxury Performance Sedan

CTS-V 6.2L Engine
CTS-V 6.2L Engine

 The debut of the Cadillac CTS-V marked the introduction of the most powerful vehicle in Cadillac's history. Boasting a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine with 640 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque, the CTS-V has a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds and a maximum speed of 200 mph. The engine features an Active Fuel Management system which stops certain cylinders at times to improve fuel economy. Complementing the V8 engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifter controls.

 Dedicated to exploring the limits of performance, the CTS-V has many elements that contribute to this goal. The structural stiffness of the vehicle has been increased by 25 percent due to the redesign of multiple braces. The mesh pattern in the model's signature grille openings has been enlarged for increased air flow and improved cooling. A front splitter increases the downforce on the vehicle and reduces lift. Third-generation Magentic Ride Control and Performance Traction Management systems allow the CTS-V to adjust to road conditions for optimal performance.

 

Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac CTS-V Interior
Cadillac CTS-V Interior

 

 The interior of the CTS-V continues the focus on performance with standard heated and ventilated front seats. Recaro performance seating is also available as an option. A 12.3-inch instrument panel cluster is combined with a reconfigurable HUD to provide data that the driver wants. Additionally, a Performance Data Recorder can be used to record video and audio of various trips, while supplementing them with data overlays.

 The Cadillac CTS-V will be available in late summer of 2015.

 

 



FCA highlights Ram 1500 Rebel, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, and Jeep Renegade

 FCA's exhibits carried a theme of resurgence. As this year was the first North American International Auto Show held under the new company name, FCA made a strong impression with its debuting models. Unveilings included the Ram Rebel, a variant of the popular Ram 1500, and the 4C Spider in Alfa Romeo's return to Detroit.

 

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Full-Size Pickup Truck

Ram 1500 Rebel
Ram 1500 Rebel

 Making its debut as the tenth member of the Ram truck lineup, the Ram 1500 Rebel emphasizes off-road capabilities and unique styling. The Rebel comes with an option of a 3.6-liter V6 engine providing 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, or a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The ride height of the Rebel has been increased by one inch, utilizing Ram's exclusive air suspension system. Combined with 33-inch Toyo all-terrain tires mounted to 17-inch aluminum wheels, the Rebel features a best-in-class ground clearance of 10.3 inches.

 The front grille of the Rebel has been redesigned with a silver RAM letter badge, while the black front bumper has a durable powder-coated surface with a silver skid plate, front tow hooks and LED fog lamps. Black bezels are used for both the Rebel's headlamps and taillamps. A two-tone paint scheme is used with black used to highlight the wheel-arch moldings and lower body panels throughout the Rebel. Sales for the Ram Rebel begin in the second half of 2015.

 

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Sports Car

 Alfa Romeo made its return to Detroit with the North American debut of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. The Spider represents a legacy of performance and racing under the Alfa Romeo brand. Featuring a mid-mounted 1.75-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of producing 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the Spider has a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 160 mph. Lightweight materials are used throughout the vehicle, with a monocoque chassis made from carbon fiber, and chassis structures and an engine-mounting frame made from aluminum. The bodywork consists of sheet molded compound which is 20 percent lighter than steel.

 

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Interior
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Interior

 

 A twin-clutch transmission with paddle shifters is paired with the engine, as well as a driving mode system called the Alfa DNA selector. The Alfa DNA selector optimizes the engine, transmission, differential and ESC based on one of four following driving modes that are selected: All-Weather, Natural, Dynamic, and Race. Two composite-framed sport seats combined with a 7-inch color information display cluster emphasize the vehicle's focus on performance.

 The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is produced in Modena, Italy and will be available in the US and Canada in the summer of 2015.

 

2015 Jeep Renegade Small SUV

 Previously introduced in March 2014 as Jeep's first entry in the small SUV segment , the Jeep Renegade was prominently displayed in Detroit. 16 powertrain combinations will be offered globally for the Renegade, though US customers will have a choice between two engines and transmissions. A 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic will be standard, offering 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 2.4-liter I4 engine will also be available with 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, paired with the segment's first nine-speed transmission. Assisted by the segment's first disconnecting rear axle and power take-off unit technology in its Jeep Active Drive system, both engines are expected achieve over 30 highway mpg.

 

Jeep Renegade
Jeep Renegade
Jeep Renegade Interior
Jeep Renegade Interior

 

 An independent suspension provides up to 8.1 inches of wheel articulation and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Other technologies featured on the Renegade include Uconnect Access, which communicates with emergency services or roadside assistance with a touch of a button, touchscreen radio systems, and the segment's largest color instrument cluster display. The Renegade also has segment-first safety technologies such as forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems.

 Produced in Melfi, Italy, the Renegade will be available in the US by March 2015 starting at USD 17,995. Sales for the Renegade in parts of Europe began in December, while production for Latin America is expected to begin in Brazil in the second quarter of 2015.

 

 



Tesla Model S P85D makes first public show appearance

 Compared to the Detroit Three, Tesla's exhibit was compact, focusing the P85D variant of the Model S and its structure. Nevertheless, crowds consistently formed around the P85D, signaling a great deal of interest in both the product and company.

 

2014 Tesla Model S P85D Electric Full-Sized Hatchback

 The P85D variant of the Tesla Model S made its public show debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, after being unveiled at a Tesla press event in October 2014. With an emphasis on performance, the P85D is the world's first dual electric motor production car. Each axle of the P85D has an electric motor which controls the amount of torque delivered to the front and rear wheels. The motors generate a total of 691 hp, 221 hp through the front motor and 470 through the rear, giving the P85D a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds.

 

Tesla Model S P85D
Tesla Model S P85D
Tesla Model S P85D Dual Motors
Tesla Model S P85D Dual Motors

 

 In addition, all Model S versions including the P85D will have a standard array of sensors such as a forward looking camera, radar, and 360-degree ultrasonic sensors. These sensors will be used for standard safety features such as collision warning and mitigation systems. Additionally, the Model S will feature optional convenience features including adaptive cruise control and automatic parking. As more safety and convenience features are developed, the Model S will be able to download updates enabling these features.

 The Model S P85D is currently available in the US starting at USD 104,500 before incentives. Production of the P85D takes place at Tesla's plant in Fremont, California.

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