Apr 13, 2022
Electric Vehicles, Not Luxury Cars, Dominate the New York Auto Show
(Bloomberg) -- The auto show, expected after two years of lockdowns to drive off into an irrelevant sunset, isn’t dead yet. Following the vibrant Munich auto show in the fall, the New York International Auto Show will open to the public on Friday, April 15, at Manhattan’s Javits Center and will run through April 24.
The format is more compelling than in years past, given the supply chain crisis that has severely delayed deliveries to dealerships, not to mention markups as high as $100,000 over manufacturer's suggested retail price for luxury cars and SUVs.
In New York, automakers will showcase new vehicles that even the most neurotic car-spotters have read about only in glossy magazines or seen on YouTube. Thousands have placed orders for such new cars, sight unseen, and resigned themselves, as in the case with General Motors’ Hummer EV, for yearslong waits.
This week, they’ll at least be able to kick the tires.
“Auto shows are still highly relevant in the same way that dealerships are still highly relevant,” says Erin Kerrigan, founder and managing director of Kerrigan Advisors, a consulting firm. “Consumers still like to touch and feel a new car before they purchase it.”
Electric Vehicle Proliferation
Electric vehicles will command the spotlight’s primary glare this week in New York.
Some of them will come from such obscure companies as INDI EV and ElectraMeccanica, but Detroit’s heavyweight pickups will hold top billing. Ford Motor Co’s F-150 Lightning, revealed via video feed almost a year ago, will appear just weeks before its first deliveries. Prospective buyers can eyeball just how many White Claws they might be able to fit in the front trunk, or figure out how they might go about plugging the rig into their home in a blackout.
General Motors Inc., in turn, will showcase the electric version of its Chevrolet Silverado EV, a rig first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It’s not due out until 2023, so expect GM to pull out all the stops to pique interest among the e-truck crowd in order to slow the momentum of Ford’s electric pickup.
Nissan, meanwhile, will play up its coming electric SUV, the Ariya. The brand’s humble battery-powered hatchback, the Leaf—for years the everyman’s Tesla—has been overtaken by rivals. The Ariya is Nissan’s chance to regain some of its EV street cred. Production issues have delayed the machine for months, and this week will give Americans one of few opportunities to see the vehicle before it ships to dealers in the fall.
Hyundai Motor Co. may present one of the show’s few surprises. The company promises to unveil a new production vehicle, although it wouldn’t provide details. The company aims to sell 1.7 million electric vehicles in 2026, so the bet is that whatever is under the cover, it will be powered by a big lithium-ion battery.
Hyundai will also show its Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, recently released electric models that are still rare on the road. (Both rigs are commanding steep markups over sticker price.)
By June, according to BloombergNEF estimates, the world will have 20 million plug-in vehicles on its streets—a remarkable jump from 1 million EVs in 2016. In the second half of 2022, almost one million EVs will hit the road worldwide per month, according to BNEF estimates. That’s one every 3 seconds.
“We are now transitioning from the halo EV cars to more mass-produced EVs, which can be afforded by anybody,” says Jesse Toprak, the chief analyst for Autonomy, an EV-subscription service. “So we are going to see an influx of the EV-curious consumers at the show who want to see what is out there now. Even [for] consumers who may have ignored the EV market so far, eventually it’s going to be too hard to ignore.”
Absence of Luxury
Still, the amount of news breaking announcements at such trade shows faded long before lockdowns, especially for luxury brands. They figured out years ago that pulling the cover off the new German utility vehicle with pyrotechnics and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a crumbling Detroit theater, or launching the newest Italian supercar in a posh private lounge, commands far better buzz than a carpeted conference center.
This week’s trade show will be light on anything novel from the posher automakers. Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and Volvo will not be unveiling anything new.
Alfa Romeo will show a new Tonale hybrid SUV. BMW will display its new X7 SUV and i7 electric sedan that follows the iX SUV and i4 sport coupe it unveiled last fall. Mercedes-Benz is officially skipping the show but will debut the all-new electric EQS days later, on April 19. Lincoln chose to debut its new electric model on April 20 in Hollywood, Calif.
Lamborghini, meanwhile, will show a new variant of the existing Huracan supercar, the Huracan Tecnica, both at its private studio space along Manhattan’s High Line and at the Javits Center. The mix of elite and egalitarian access best serves the brand that enjoys sales in the U.S. that are more than twice as high as those in its next-biggest market, China.
“The U.S. is our most important market, and if we look at the share we have inside the U.S., it’s clear New York is a place we have to be,” says Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann. “It’s a good combination.”
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