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Vancouver International Auto Show – Where is the innovation?

auto show press passThe Vancouver International Auto Show opened this weekend showcasing the “latest and greatest” in automotive technology.  Attending the media preview and the first day I got a fairly good idea of what’s new and what’s missing in the automotive world – at least here in North America.

Every year the auto show leaves a distinct memory of one thing or another.  In 2005 it was the large variety of concept vehicles.  In 2006 it was the strong focus on new environmental technologies, most notably hybrids and the hydrogen powered Hywire from Gm.  This year however it was what was not there which left the strongest impression.

  • Tune in for our special video presentation of the Vancouver International Auto Show later this week.

Although all the manufacturers kept emphasizing green initiatives there was a severe lack of both green alternatives and new innovations in the displays.  In all the green focus of the show was lackluster and unimaginative and left a distinct feeling that something was amiss.  You got the distinct feeling that the emergence of environmentally conscious consumers had caught the auto manufacturers off guard with little if anything to offer.  The few green alternatives were tucked away and hidden as if the manufacturers were embarrassed to show their lack of progress since last year.  The Toyota Prius and Camry Hybrid were hidden behind a wall in the Toyota area.  The Saturn hybrid was jammed into a corner behind a display.  And while GM’s display “Green by Design” featured four solutions to the environmental impact of cars: a hybrid, a “low consumption vehicle”, a fuel cell vehicle they claim will be released this fall and a program called “car heaven” where you can trade in your old polluting car for a new slightly less polluting GM model you also found several Hummers and other gas guzzlers with “Green by Design” stickers on them.

Knowing that the European auto shows featured new technologies like the Volkswagen Blue Motion diesel engine, natural gas vehicles and even diesel hybrids one would expect that the Vancouver International Auto Show had at least a hint of these new innovations.  Instead it seemed like they had gone in the opposite direction reverting back to the status quo of a couple of years ago when the environment was still something only treehuggers cared about.  In the end the irony of the car show being held underneath the dome of BC Place Stadium – recently repaired after the heavy damage it sustained earlier this year caused by strong winds many say was the direct result of climate change seemed uncomfortably poignant.

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