Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Toronto AutoShow Highlights

The Toronto International AutoShow (www.AutoShow.ca) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre opened on Friday and runs until Sunday, Feb. 26th.  I spent some time there on yesterday and here are a few of the things that caught my eye:

  • Triumph Classics.  For nostalgia buffs, there is always a great showcase on the 700 Level of the show.  This year, you can see 40 classic Triumph sports cars that cover the complete history of the Triumph Motor Car Company from the elegant 1935 Triumph Gloria Southern Cross to the Triumph Spitfire to the TR2, TR3, and TR4 "bug eye" roadsters that really launched the brand in North America during the 1950's and 1960's to the "wedge" version TR7 and TR8 of the 1970's and 1980's that corresponded to the takeover by British Leyland.   A number of car companies are trying to bring cars to market that capture the spirit of these British roadsters but it can probably never be fully realized.  Mazda has probably come closest with their Miata (now MX-5) launched in 1989 which brings Japanese reliability and workmanship that eluded the British sports cars despite their fun-to-drive character. 
  • Eco-Drive ShowcaseThe theme of the 2012 AutoShow is "The Next Dimension" and a new display area that explores what that might be is the Eco-Drive Showcase on the 700 Level.  Because car companies in Canada and the US are mandated to get their fleet-average fuel consumption to 6.9L/100 Km by model year 2016 (and down to 4.3 by 2025), every conceivable fuel economy technology is being  explored and implemented.  Electric and hybrids are only part of the solution.  It was nice to see that the showcase included developments in conventional technologies because there's still still plenty of life left in gasoline engine development as automakers rethink even basic principles.  The result is that every manufacturer at the show has one or more solutions to the fuel consumption and emissions challenge.  Last year, it seemed like the only solution being offered was electric-only vehicles or hybrid-electric.  Now it is clear that there are a number of other ways to get to the government mandated standards and some do not involve electric power at all.  Again, I'll mention that Mazda is defying convention by implementing a series of technologies they are calling SKYACTIV to achieve the mandated standards by rethinking how to design the gasoline and diesel engine.  It all makes things a bit more complicated for consumers.
  •  Auto$mart.  The Canadian Government's Natural Resources Ministry (which administers the fuel consumption guide) has a website that provides fuel consumption figures for all vehicles sold in Canada as well as a lot of great information on the various technologies and their advantages and disadvantages.  Check out the site at http://vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.
There is lots more to see at the show including interactive displays and presentations as well as more vehicles in every category than you can imagine.  It's a great opportunity to learn about the new technologies that are changing how the automobile impacts your life.  If you are in the market for a new car, the choices are virtually endless.  The Toronto International AutoShow is on until Sunday, February 26th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  I will be on duty at the Mazda stand on Thursday, February 23rd so come by and say hello.