After a COVID vacation, the Detroit Auto Show is back to take over the downtown convention center.
It’s a unique corporate showcase. Detroit Auto Show is well-known. Many have attended since they can remember (the show dates to 1899). It’s part of “Motor City,” Henry Ford’s hometown.
1899 lacked electric automobiles. As major automakers prepare to switch to EVs in the coming decade, battery-powered vehicles dominated the 723,000-square-foot exhibit space. President Biden, a self-described “car guy,” traveled from D.C. to promote a nationwide EV charging network and drive a Corvette Z06.
Major car makers, startups, and research agencies built pop-up booths for participants to browse and drove cars onto freshly rolled-out carpets.
Big brands built indoor driving courses. At least two booths had metal mountains where test drivers led passengers up a steep hill to demonstrate traction and braking.
Biden’s emphasis on developing a domestic EV supply chain may have prompted some companies to locate plants in the U.S. Batteries are heavy and expensive to ship from overseas, therefore it’s best to build them near EV assembly plants.
Despite battery costs, automakers are offering cheaper electric cars. GM’s Chevrolet Equinox compact SUV debuted last week. It costs $30,000 and can travel 250 miles each charge. More money buys 300 miles (500 km) more range.
Equinox is North American-made. It’s Mexican-made. The company won’t specify where the battery will be built, but it’s matching other tax credit standards.
Christian Meunier, CEO of Stellantis’ Jeep brand, said building adequate charging stations will take more than government money. Biden said the money should spur private investment.
“There’s momentum. Meunier stated at the auto show that private enterprises may invest more. “It’ll explode.”