New York International Auto Show: Wheels of the World on Display in the Big Apple
New York International Auto Show: Wheels of the World on Display in the Big Apple

NEW YORK—The 2014 New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javitz Center is one of the biggest auto shows, timed perfectly for the beginning of spring, and growing in importance.

While Detroit’s North America International Auto Show kicks off the year and catches the attention of international press, New York City is the biggest media hub, and companies are taking the opportunity to make major unveilings.

Although less than a quarter of Manhattan households have cars, luxury cars are especially hot, and the auto show is the place to see the newest innovations the industry has to offer. Visitors can expect to see a good number of luxury vehicles along with revamped bestsellers on the floor.

New technology is raising safety standards, and companies are equipping cars with more sensors and more connectivity. Connected cars are a prelude to cars that drive themselves, and now feature options that warn drivers of impending collisions and smart mirrors that improve visibility.

But the New York show isn’t concept-heavy. Companies are hoping to unveil models that will capture the North American market’s attention and sell cars.

Nostalgia

Fifty years ago, at the New York World’s Fair 1964, Ford revealed the iconic Mustang in Wimbledon White. Five decades later, Ford unveiled a limited edition 2015 Ford Mustang in New York, based on the Mustang 2015 GT fastback with a design taking cues from the original.

“It is an extremely limited edition, for our most diehard enthusiasts,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman and great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford. Ford is only building 1,964 of these cars, which come in Wimbledon White or Kona Blue. Customers can choose between 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Ford also revealed the 2015 Ford Focus sedan, which is the world’s best-selling nameplate car of 2013 thanks to growth in China. The redesign gives the Focus a bolder exterior and more luxurious interior.

Competition Rising

Toyota is giving its bestselling Camry a dramatic makeover just three years into its model cycle, redoing the entire exterior and keeping nothing but the roof. The refresh is “all about attitude,” said general manager William Fay.

The Camry has been the best-selling car in the country for the last 12 years, averaging about 50 sales an hour. But competition in midsize sedans is tight now, as other brands release sportier rivals in a shrinking market.

Hyundai unveiled its seventh generation Sonata the same day, with a more refined look, better response, and reduced noise.

“Oh, the competition’s definitely there,” said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America CEO. Hyundai expects to release 12 new products in the next three years.

Luxury Variety

BMW has been adding models left and right, aiming for new niches.

The BMW X4 is a “sports activity coupe” based on the X3 that looks like a smaller X6. The M4 Convertible takes cues from the M3 coupe but adds a retractable hardtop. BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupe, which was unveiled earlier this year in Geneva, is based on the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe but has four doors and a longer, more elegant look.

Acura is doing the opposite and replacing the TSX and TL models with a new sedan sized right in the middle. Sportier than the TL but with more power than the TSX, 2015 TLX has interiors closer to the upscale RLX, and aims to feel as spacious as the TL.

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