The next big thing

First Posted: 1/5/2015

DETROIT — Last year, Ford revealed its highly-anticipated aluminum-bodied F-150 at the North American International Auto Show. This year the big reveal is up in the air.

It could be a new engine, a revolutionary vehicle or tech gadget that shocks attendees.

The show, in its 27th year, is in Detroit at the Cobo Center and welcomes media Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday is the industry preview, the charity preview follows on Friday, Jan. 16 and then the public show is Saturday to Jan. 25.

One thing that is always present at the auto show is discussion on the “balance of performance vs. fuel economy and emissions,” said Bernard Swiecki, assistant director for the Automotive Communities Partnership at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Automotive companies are being encouraged to make cars more energy efficient and environmental, while consumers want better mileage. How the two will work together is still up in the air.

Despite its big announcement last year, which brought jobs to its Lima engine plant, Ford is keeping quiet about its reveals at this year’s show, saying it will announce product news on Monday during its many events.

Chatter from enthusiasts is Ford will announce a new Ford GT or another high-performance vehicle, Swiecki said.

“The enthusiast community is waiting with bated breath,” he said.

Honda is a little less coy with its reveals. It is planning to reveal the production version of its Acura NSX supercar.

“After three years of intensive development work, we are excited to reveal this next-generation supercar — the Acura NSX — to the world,” said Ted Klaus, chief engineer and global project leader over NSX development, in a statement. “We’ve developed a human-centered supercar that responds to the will of the driver and that builds upon the NSX heritage.”

The company showed off a concept of the car in 2012, at NAIAS. Once production begins, the car will be made in Ohio, at the company’s Marysville location.

The car is “legendary,” Swiecki said, as it’s a successor to the original NSX, introduced in the 1980s.

“It’s a halo vehicle,” he said. “It’s not just about the vehicle, it’s also just the idead of the image improvement it brings to the brand overall.”

People are waiting to see how the car will look, what technology it will incorporate and how it will handle, as lightweight handling was a trademark of the first NSX, Swiecki said.

As far as gadgets and technology to be seen at the show, Swiecki said he thinks discussion will be related to autonomous and connected vehicles.

“We’re perhaps five years away from the first self-driving cars,” Swiecki said. “It’s a technology trend that’s really gaining momentum.”

At the 2015 show, he expects to see vehicles with elements of that technology.

“Prices have dropped, and availability has increased,” he said.

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