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If you've seen my pictures from the years of previous auto shows they usually end with the lower level. It's a logical progression of course. Start at the main show, then work your way down to the smaller more special interest show in the basement. Incidentally I follow the same strategy when attending AutoRama and the Canadian International Auto Show. So imagine my surprise when I wander down to the basement around 6:10PM and find no entry, with a single 24" x 24" sign displaying hours indicating the lower level closes at 6PM. 6PM?! What?! In 18 years of attending the NAIAS I can't recall another year when the lower level closed before the main show. Why would such a thing happen? It was obviously a surprise to the steady stream of other patrons who attempted to enter for the next half hour as I waited for the tunnel bus to arrive. Two NAIAS employees were even required to be stationed at the doors constantly yelling "This level is closed" to the line of attendees wanting to enter. What gets me is that there were no signs posted anywhere else informing of the limited hours. Nothing on the ticket. No announcement made. When I exited the upper level to go downstairs I was not told by the door person it was closed. Do I sound somewhat pissed? Yes, I probably do because at the time I was quite vexed. The lower level is a smaller show with a more special interest. Local schools, Formula SAE, military, always a special feature. Which this year was autonomous driving, alternative fuels and smart cities. If there was some indication of the limited hours posted somewhere else in the show, perhaps I would have, oh I don't know, visited the lower level first before the main show?
That annoyance ranted, it was a decent show. Like last year there was a focus on the consumer electronics aspect of vehicles and autonomous driving. Shame that it wasn't possible to see the demos of both as that level closed early. I still remain deeply skeptical of both. Fact is, there aren't any truly autonomous vehicles around at this point which can handle driving situations (see a lot of footage of autonomous vehicles driving in a Canadian winter through 12 inches of snow, ice fog and freezing rain? I thought not) as well (poorly) as a human. And there won't be for a long time. It is somewhat disingenuous the hype manufacturers and media are generating considering the current state of the art. I'm also not about to purchase a vehicle based upon smart phone integration. Why? Because it works for as long as the manufacturer and app designer wants it to. So let's say 4 years later after 2 OS updates the app stops working because they've decided they won't update it. And then 2 years after that, the back end "cloud" servers are shut down. All features in the vehicle depending on smart phone connectivity are now disabled. Sounds great, eh?
Honda debuted their new 2019 Insight prototype for the first time at NAIAS 2018. I'm sure it's a decent car, but it is a much an Insight as a 4 door turbo diesel AWD sedan from Chevy labelled "Corvette" is a Corvette. Aluminium body? Nope. 2 door? Nope. Extreme weight savings? Nope. Aerodynamic? Nope. Lean burn? Nope. In other words, it is a Civic (actually the drivetrain is much like the Accord hybrid, with an added motor) with an "Insight" badge. Extremely disappointing from a company that used to be so innovative.
What Honda did bring to the table were 3 Clarity models: EV, plug in hybrid, and fuel cell. Ignoring the fuel cell as it's basically pointless, both the EV and plug in hybrid look like decent options. Just unfortunate the EV model has only an 89 mile range. With almost all other manufacturers bringing out EVs with much higher ranges, the disadvantage of battery limitations because of a shared platform means they can't compete.
Achates Power had an interesting display of their opposed piston compression ignition engine. Going to have to read up on it a little because their representative could not answer my questions. Specifically how they prevent the top pistons from filling with oil, and because of the side exhaust/intake ports in the cylinders, how do they prevent unburned hydrocarbons between the piston top and first piston ring from leaving through the exhaust.
A few years ago I had a Ford C-MAX Energi as a rental car over a weekend. Wasn't bad except the rental company didn't provide me a charge cord and the Microsoft Sync system was...just awful. So I always make it a point to look at the latest C-MAX. First thing I noticed when I sat in the drivers seat was that the gear selector blocks the HVAC controls. Really Ford?
Do I sound cynical? I'm still pissed about the lower level closure.
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