Hope for the future at the 2009 NY Auto Show

When given the chance to have you picture taken with a giant robot from outer space, you to take it. When given the chance to have you picture taken with a giant robot from outer space, you to take it.

By Dan Meade
Provided by WorldNow

If there are two messages to take away from the 2009 New York International Auto Show, they are probably that the bedrock of the automotive world is shifting, and that it is OK to love a car again.

The first words that I heard upon arriving at New York City's Javits Center were from Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volkswagen of America, saying that it was "time for the automotive world to be honest with itself, and with the public." It is no secret that automakers are in trouble and have to change their ways. Now.

After his company was given a 30 day window to finalize its alliance with Fiat, Chrysler's VP Jim Press arrived to his press conference in a Fiat 500, and greeted the crowd with a "Ciao" rather than a "Hello." Perhaps the most troubled of all the automakers, certainly the most troubled of Detroit's Big Three, is Chrysler. Press spoke at length of a new dynamism at Chrysler. He projected eight new vehicles in the next eighteen months. He talked of a streamlined company on the verge of great new things, one of which was the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee that roared onto the podium and crashed over the platforms. Of course, if Chrysler cannot complete its deal with Fiat, the company may cease to exist and their promises will be unmet.

As if borrowing from President Obama's campaign theme, General Motors presented their Buick-GMC-Pontiac line as one of change. Susan Docherty, a General Motors North America Vice President, spoke of how the new Buick models are attracting younger and more affluent customers while new GMC trucks will help rebuild the economy through their load-carrying capacity and prowess. 

Walking around the Auto Show, for every Camaro, Charger, and Porsche, there were also Volts, Mini-Es, Cubes, and Converjs to be seen. Sex still sells if you're looking for it, but green is truly the new thing. From European models with efficient Diesel engines to a multitude of hybrid and electric vehicles, there were plenty of cars you could fall in love with that Mother Nature would approve of.

A Prius was displayed under a field of electric stars. The Mini-E was waiting for you next to a park bench on a field of green Astroturf. The Volt, the basis for Jolt from Transformers, was even there if you like your green vehicles to originate on distant planets.

No one is doubting the trouble that the automakers are in, or the damage a century of internal combustion has done to the planet. But there were seeds of hope on display in New York. If Chrysler can finish its deal with Fiat, if GM can mass produce the Volt as scheduled, if Americans become keen on diesel, if a few other things break the right way, great possibilities could be on the horizon for the auto industry.

At the New York Auto Show, if you were to close your eyes and sit behind the wheel of one of the dazzling new cars and let yourself forget all the economic troubles, you could almost see a new day dawning for the automobile.

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