One reader's take on the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)

On Monday I received the following note from longtime Machine Design reader, John Swank, Sr., Product Development Engineer — Wheel and Brake, UTC Aerospace Systems,
Troy, Ohio.  Here, Swank outlines what he considers the best innovations on display this year:

"This year’s NAIAS had some interesting vehicles and concepts.  The new Mustang looks sharp ... however, it is what lies below the skin that is the most radical change for the "pony car" in this the Chinese year of the Horse.  The independent rear suspension will not excite the drag-racing crowd, but this has made a significant improvement the Mustang’s handling — putting it on par with the Camaro, which already has an independent rear suspension.
 
Chevy introduced the 2015 Corvette Z06 right alongside the C7.R racing version of the 'Vette.  For the money, the Z06 is arguably the best sports car in the world.  It has the performance in all respects of cars multiple times more expensive.
 
Toyota displayed its FT-1 prototype.  While an interesting vehicle, there are elements of it which are clearly for aesthetics only.  One example are the two large intakes with fans each front corner of the car.  Rocks would make short work of these in the real world.  Clearly with a stop-sale order due to seat heaters causing fires, Toyota has some very important basics to address.  They certainly have had a run of serious design flaws over the past few years.
 
There was a 1932 Lincoln in the Lincoln pavilion which was a great old machine.  I certainly hope Lincoln holds on and is not yet another U.S. car nameplate which becomes relegated to the dustbin of history.
 
However, one of the most impressive machines at the show was the Porsche 918 hybrid.  The power from its engine and electric motors totals 770 hp!  Given that electric motors can generate maximum torque from zero rpm it is not surprising that this car can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds.
 
As always, NAIAS was a fun event. That said, it has lost some of its luster to the NYC, LA, and Chicago auto shows.  Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini were conspicuously absent.  Ferrari was scheduled to appear just a few weeks before the show but then were a no show.  This is even more of note now that Chrysler is owned by Fiat the parent of Ferrari and Maserati."

Agree with Swank? Have something else to add? Drop us a line. Also visit Machine Design's Automotive section for more news and details about innovative new designs.

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Existing and emerging technologies immediately applicable to product design, as well as industry trends that promise to change engineering.

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Elisabeth Eitel

Elisabeth is Senior Editor of Machine Design magazine. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Fenn College at Cleveland State University. Over the last decade, Elisabeth has worked as a...
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