Have Auto Shows Lost Their Thrill?
To the editor:
Chris Wright is correct - the Geneva auto show was different this year ('Are Auto Shows Getting Stale?' April issue, Page 15).
The lack of excitement in Geneva could be the result of indecisive executives who could not decide which cars to promote. Automakers now launch several products during the year, rather than just one car. It quickly becomes very expensive to have six or seven big displays with laser shows and all the trimmings at your stand. I do agree that there seems to be a universal trend to reduce the number of shows and improve the quality when one does decide to participate.
In my home base of Brazil, the leading automakers decided last year against participating in an annual Sao Paulo auto show. They were influenced by low corporate profits plus the high cost of a car show. Brazil is a large country, and the public is not accustomed to travel far just to visit a car show. So the general consensus is to hold one show every two years in Sao Paulo, and mount one show in Rio de Janeiro in the interim year.
I am also glad to see that Brazil is featured in your magazine with articles and statistics. It would be nice to see more in future issues. Brazil already is a far cry from the third-world country it was in the recent past, when monopolies and closed borders kept globalization at bay.
Please forward my thanks to Dave Guilford for his closing statement in his article on expatriates ('Expatriates Learn To Live On Guard,' April issue, Page 38). I have lived in Brazil since 1980, and I also have lived in South Africa and the United States. I come originally from Holland. Although it is true that the larger Brazilian cities suffer from an elevated crime rate, I've yet to feel more threatened in Sao Paulo than in any other major city anywhere in the world.
Edward B.B. van Hellemondt
peugeot do brasil ltda.
To the editor:
I read with much interest Chris Wright's column, 'Are Auto Shows Getting Stale?' Having designed many show cars and prototypes over the years, I was expecting an observation like Wright's for some time now. The fact is that there are just too many of these so-called concept cars displayed in one show after another. Some come off fairly well, such as the Seat Salsa. But for the most part, this abundance of prototypes and expensive stands has spoiled many into indifference.
Incredible sums of money are spent on prototypes that seem to have no real lasting appeal. All the Bugattis, for example, just seem to fade away after you've seen them for the second or third time. For a number of years, Chrysler really did come up with interesting show cars, but even they have faded a bit now. At the Detroit auto show, Ford simply stopped trying to out-style GM or Chrysler. It's as if Ford was saying that the car was going to become a computer anyway, so why bother?
Car design is becoming too 'virtual' and too computerized. The industry is attracting too many young designers who like playing with these instruments. Auto shows are still fun, but there is a risk that the whole concept will fade away if it's overdone.
Chairman, Tjaarda Design
Sport-Utilities Are Thick As A Brick
To the editor:
I'd like to comment on Editor Dave Sedgwick's dislike of large sport-utilities ('Sport-ute design thick as a brick,' February issue, Page 14). I wanted to let you know that we have just returned from the Daytona 500 and had a very pleasurable trip in a new 'brick' Excursion. There were six of us with luggage, and we averaged over 14 mpg on our trip to Daytona, and 14 mpg (17 liters per 100 kilometers) on the return leg. Of course, we could have convoyed in three Opel Zafiras, Renault Megane Scenics or Audi A2s. That would have been fun while we used CBs or phones to visit during the trip.
I also like nimble sporty cars, but sometimes I get the feeling that's all you people ever think about. Maybe that is why the world's automobile manufacturers make such a selection of cars, trucks, vans, sports cars and crossovers. I do agree that we are in a golden age of vehicle design. Take care and keep smiling.
The writer is a former account manager for Ford's fleet operations. He is retired.