The Bentley and Jaguar SUV concepts aren’t the only cars that were present in words and not for viewing at the Detroit Show. CEOs used the opportunity to brief the world on their upcoming models and tech changes as well.

Not all models showcased or concepts revealed at the Detroit Motor Show would be relevant to the GCC market but many of them are – in fact some of what happened up there is news we have been looking forward to. Like the compact crossover from Mazda, or the rollover that the Miata-based Italian just did to join the Fiat fleet from the Alfa Romeo, a casual lasso at a Hummer substitute by GM or even the Googlemobile! On the other hand, the Buick Avenir (above) was among the most beautiful concept sedans at the show but wouldn’t make this into this story, for obvious reasons.

Alfa-Romeo and Fiat make Italia the happening place

The rear wheel drive platform that Alfa-Romeo plans to build its whole range on will also be the platform from which the Italian will challenge the Bimmer, according to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Friends, Germans, Countrymen… (Mini Countryman included!) The war begins on the 24th of June, when the Alfa brand celebrates 105th anniversary. That is when the new sedan using the rear-wheel drive platform of the Maserati Ghibli will be unveiled – figuratively speaking that is when “the pout meets the snout”. The car will have slightly smaller wheelbase than the Ghibli (spy-shot below) and will compete with the 3-series and the upcoming Jaguar XE. Most probably, the name will still be the Alfa Romeo Giulia (picture above).

The changeover in the long-talked-about Mazda Miata (MX-5) and Alfa Romeo cross-pollination effort is that the scent of a sexy Fiat is in the air now. This however will delay the release only by a quarter for badging changes and picking a new nose. While the new Miata should be out somewhere in the world by mid-2015 the Alfa could take a bit longer.

Mazda adds a new crossover

Talking about Miata, the model the Mazda HQ would be counting on is the new subcompact crossover the brand is planning. Mazda’s North America CEO, Jim O’Sullivan was open about his expectations for a substantial outflow to the CUV (compact utility vehicle) in the B-segment. When CX-7 was stopped, it paved the way for the better balanced CX-5 and now CX-3 would complete the next logical stop in size. While Audi Q3 and BMW X1 were quick to the opportunity, in the affordable segments, the subcompact crossover still doesn’t have many players!

Electric cars and driverless vehicles

If fuel cost and the natural proclivity to capitalize on available resource are the major reasons that electric vehicles aren’t fancied much in the Gulf, the high price is the greatest deterrent in markets like the US. Hence GM will make full use of a 7500 USD tax rebate for zero-emission vehicles and sell the Chevrolet Volt at 30 grand (110,000 dirhams) which is pretty close a pitch to the Bolt concept (above), which can do much longer stretches on one filling. The Bolt name is turning out to be a bone of contention, first for Chevy’s funny rhyming sense in its EV range, and now for the fact that Tata already has a car called Bolt for almost a year, albeit in India alone.

Meanwhile, Global product development boss of GM, Mark Reuss hinted at the bleak chances of having a vehicle like Hummer because GM wants to rely less on trucks even though he admits there is a gap for a rugged off-roader in the GMC or Chevrolet range. The Middle East would immediately vote for it, Mr. Reuss!

The question being the future, both immediate and far, the distance to autonomous cars is more like five years and not fifteen, Director of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson assures us. Google plans to test the cars first with temporary controls and then without them on California roads, as soon as the laws allow. Mercedes-Benz too had its ‘luxury in motion F015 autonomous concept (pictured above), a ‘fishy looking’ sedan with controls with the option of fully being on autopilot showcased at the event.

Data and image courtesy: automobile.com, autoevolution and other sites

Detroit Digest: Coming soon was last modified: February 22nd, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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