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Detroit auto show: Ford to muscle up with remodeled pickup
Tough times in the rear-view mirror for the U.S. auto sector as high gas prices, a weak housing market and talk of the dreaded R word (read: recession) cloud the outlook just in time for the Detroit Auto Show.
Ford Motor Co officials will unveil the latest iteration of its F-150 full-size pickup truck, the country’s top-selling vehicle, at a time when talk of small cars around the globe is all the rage. India’s Tata Motors has set tongues wagging with plans to build a $2,500 car this year for developing markets called the Nano (pictured below).
The show comes at a time when some officials in the industry believe the U.S. auto sector is heading for its worst year in 15 years, resulting in pressure on automakers to consolidate. Japan’s Nissan just announced it will supply newly independent Chrysler LLC with a small car for sale in South America.
You can find a media schedule of events for the show here. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler spent last year slashing jobs and production, and signing new contracts with their unionized hourly work force in a bid to address their problems. Amid the recession talk, consumers will be looking for discounts and other deals, only tightening the screws on the U.S. automakers.
Ford is counting on its new F-150 to help it rebound. While the market has pulled back slightly over the past few years, Ford sales analyst George Pipas pointed out a full-size pickup has been the top-selling U.S. vehicle the last 26 consecutive years.
After all, it is one of the largest segments in the U.S.,” he said an e-mail to reporters ahead of the show. “That says a lot about our culture. Rugged individualists. Do-it-yourselfers. In some ways and for some people in some parts of the country, the full-size pickup has taken the place of the horse. Go to a Home Depot or Lowe’s some Saturday afternoon and check out the parking lot. Not too many small cars, are there?”
Along with consolidation, the impact of gas guzzlers and fuel-sipping cars on the environment, and when China-built cars might invade the U.S. market are among the other expected topics of conversation at the show.
In addition to the Ford truck, other models to watch at the show this year — many of which can be seen in Car and Driver — include the “super Vette,” (pictured left) a high horsepower Corvette that fans have been itching to drive; Mercedes-Benz’s smallest sport utility vehicle yet and Toyota’s concept version of a hybrid-powered small pickup truck.
Check back for links to stories, pictures and coverage from Reuters Television throughout the show at Reuters.com.
(Photos: Reuters right; GM left)