Observations from the 2009 Seattle Auto Show

Category: News, Videos. Written by Cameron Wong 

Beauties like this Lamborghini Gallardo are one of the many reasons why people go to auto shows. The guys behind the Seattle Auto Show knows this, which is why they his the crowds right out off the bat with the big toys. As we entered the event doors, the display of sleek Lamborghinis and spotless Bentleys were impossible to miss. Drawing cameras and stares in this group of high-end cars was also a 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom, which at $435,000, is worth more than the average house in King county.

It wasn’t just the unique cars that caught our attention however, as we spent hours at the show interviewing both dealers of all types, from startups like Zenn Motors, a Washington based all-electric car manufacturer, to the possibly soon-to-be-gone Chrysler reps. With hundreds of photos, video, business cards and frantic scribbles, we’ll be gunning out quite a few articles in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a quick round-up of some quick observations we had during the 2009 Seattle Auto show:

Cars to Make Your Head Turn
Park Place LTD always has an impressive collection of exotic autos and this year was no different. This is where we found the eye-candy Lotus Exiges and an army of expensive Aston Martins, including the 007’s famous Aston Martin DBS. Audi stepped up to the big boys league with their rubber melting R8, while Mercedes drew a constant crowd with their raw meets refined CL 63 AMG. Oddly, the Maserati section was a ghost town, as if people suddenly realized these and the other head turners cost more than what most people make in year. That’s why we also nickname these the “museum cars” – great for looking, but no touching unless you can afford it!

The Big Hit: Green Cars
Not surprisingly, the green machines are getting a lot of love this year. In past seasons, most of the electric and alternative fuel vehicles would be stuck in the back or in some lonely (and probably inexpensive) corner.

Not this year. In fact, some of the big boys are pushing their fuel efficient autos, while it seems most automakers have a hybrid of some type in production or development. Surprisingly, Chevrolet has one of the most prominent green displays in the whole building, pushing their hybrid SUVs and prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Being stuck in the corner didn’t seem to hurt Mercedes owned Smart Car, which drew oohs and aahs from guys and girls alike. The Green Car Company, based in Bellevue and various other electric car companies were getting a good share of attention. Ferrari won the competition for most photographs, but the green cars were the winner in popularity it seemed.

Subaru’s Gran Turismo Simulator
With three monitors and a seat that makes you feel the experience along with every bump, Subaru’s Gran Turismo Simulator will be popular with kids of all ages. The wait may be long, and everyone sees you crashing all over the place, but it’s a fun diversion when you need a quick break from the propaganda machines.

Things to Keep an Eye On
There was a constant buzz surrounding the Toyota Venza. The sales reps were constantly busy fielding questions on when it would hit the market for sale (early 2009) and how much it would cost. Those kind of questions are usually indicators of serious consumer interest. If the Seattle Auto Show is any indication, the Venza will sell well when it’s out of hush-hush mode and in production.

It might be hard to keep an eye on, because it makes almost no noise. We’re talking about The Bad Boy Buggy, which is an electric off road vehicle built in Mississippi. Will the off-road crowd buy (literally) into a plug-in ATV is up to speculation.

Potential Disappointments
Chrysler has one of the coolest looking concept cars in the Akino. With a space age looking exterior, Scion xB style frame, right-side steering wheel, curved back seats and rear-facing passenger seat, it made for one heck of an impression.

But, despite this all and despite being displayed smack dab in the middle of the event center, the Akino remains a the big mystery. None of the Chrysler people were allowed to comment on it, or give any type of information. They wouldn’t even tell us the fuel efficiency of this futuristic vehicle. While automakers have every right to be secretive about their concepts, this felt like yet another routine Detroit ploy to build up intrigue.

Lastly, in a world of green and hybrid cars, there is the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Visually it’s still a monster. And looking at the specs, it only offers 20MPG. Seriously, a 20MPG hybrid? We were hoping for more from the American automakers in the green category, but Lincoln and Dodge didn’t really go green at all. They kept with the big car, big horsepower approach that has worked well in the past. But if observation is any indicator, they sorely missed the spot with this crowd.

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3 Responses to “Observations from the 2009 Seattle Auto Show”

  1. Jared on November 7th, 2008 9:46 am

    nice heads up, i was planning on going tomorrow. i’m pretty excited to see the lambo and subaru’s booth sounds neat. i’m itching to poke around inside one of the new WRX since the specs say the hatch has lost about 1/3 of the cargo space. i was very seriously considering upgrading from my 05 WRX wagon but i’m pretty happy with the amount of stuff i can jam in the back.

  2. Cameron on November 7th, 2008 11:49 am

    also check out the Scion display…even if you don’t like the car, they have a lot of good giveaways. I saw this kid get a free knit hat and Ipod cover. It was decent stuff. It’s tucked away in the east corner near Subaru.

  3. Grant on November 8th, 2008 11:05 pm

    Yeah, I’ve noticed some of the small cars have got smaller and the big cars bigger. Hatchbacks seem to be getting pretty popular too – I think most people like the less space in exchange for more road versatility. Like Cam was talking about, the Scions are a perfect example of that.

    Oh yeah, you can get into the Subarus but not the Lambos unfortunately. If we saw you there, maybe we could have lent you our press pass for a few minutes :D

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