The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) formerly the Detroit Auto Show used to be the biggest auto show in the world. With America’s “Big Three” automakers (General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) all calling Detroit home, NAIAS is still a big stage for big reveals. We were at Cobo Center, the home of NAIAS for the past two media days covering the action from the floor.
In years, past the show featured two floors of show space for automakers. Now, it has been reduced to the main floor at Cobo Center which covers 723,000 sq. ft of exhibition. The biggest displays are held by the Big Three, but they aren’t as big as they once were a decade ago.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had their core Mopar brands under one exhibit which backs up to the Ford exhibit and is across from a few of the General Motors brands, specifically GMC and Chevrolet.
At the center of the FCA exhibit is the Ram brand with the debut of the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty lineup. Ram had several of the new trucks on display, including the 2019 Ram 3500 Limited Mega Cab Dually, two 2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagons, a 2019 Ram 2500 Laramie Black Crew Cab, a 2019 Ram 3500 Laramie Crew Cab Dually and a 2019 Ram 2500 Limited Crew Cab that they showed off to the media. Large displays of the new 2019 Ram 3500 Chassis were also a large part of the exhibit, along with cutaway displays of the 6.7-liter Cummins H.O. Turbo Diesel.
The new Ram Heavy Duty trucks looked amazing as Ram’s press conference setup with the stage took up 1/2 of the exhibit. We were lucky enough to get there early to be up front to watch the unveiling. Ram easily had one of the biggest, if not the biggest turn out for the new Heavy Duty as the press conference was full and there were lots of media outlets standing in the back covering the event.
The unveiling didn’t disappoint as Ram put on a great display with their huge LED screen that allowed the audience to see in almost a 3D effect different trailers that the Heavy Duty could tow. Ram surprised the media with the debut of the 2019 Ram 2500 Laramie Black, which was easily the most filmed vehicle by the press there.
FCA made sure the media and show goers for this next week know how well their brands are doing on the market, with Ram and Jeep having two huge trophy cases backed with awards over the last couple of years. Speaking of awards, in the front of the exhibit sat an all-new 2019 Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 Off-Road, with a huge Motor Trend trophy in the bed, making sure everyone knew within the Ford, Chevrolet and GMC exhibits could see who was title winner this year. Standing next to that truck was a glass case featuring this year’s 2019 Truck of the Year trophy.
Jeep was the second most prominent part of the FCA exhibit, featuring several 2019 Jeep Wrangler models with Motor Trend SUV of the Year banners around them on the many aisleways in front of the display. Jeep brought out quite a few models for the media to check out, including a trio of 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickups. The Gladiator Rubicon at the center of the exhibit was the same truck featured at the L.A. Auto Show with a pair of KTM motocross bikes in the bed. A Gobi colored Gladiator Rubicon with its windshield down, doors off and top off was there for the media get their hands on, while a Jeep Gladiator Overland sat next to it.
Jeep also had several of its other vehicles there, but many were pushed to the side to make room for the Ram press conference. Jeep Performance Parts adorned the one wall of the Jeep exhibit, letting people know of all the aftermarket parts available are for all of the Jeep lineup, not just for Wrangler.
To the left of the Ram display, in the back corner was the Mopar section of the exhibit. Mopar brought three concepts to NAIAS. The 1968 Dodge Super Charger Concept from SEMA, sat in the middle of the Moparized 2020 Jeep Gladiator Concept and the Moparized 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel also from this past year’s SEMA show. A wall of Mopar performance parts highlighted the section of the exhibit, while a pair of Mopar crate motors (the new 426 cubic-inch Hellephant and 6.2-liter HELLcrate supercharged V8s) completed the Mopar section.
Just in front of the Mopar section was the Dodge and SRT performance brand section. Dodge put the new 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT HELLCAT Redeye right out in the main aisle way. Painted in the new Triple-Nickel paint, it was getting high praise from people walking through the exhibit. Sitting right next to it was a Triple-Nickel 2019 Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT with a set of the new Brass Monkey wheels for 2019. A new 2019 Dodge Durango SRT in White Knuckle with the all-new stripe package sat close by.
In the back of the Dodge exhibit sat a 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT HELLCAT Widebody that was part of Dodge’s simulators. People can climb inside of a real SRT HELLCAT and drive on a virtual track in front of the car while the car moves and shakes to the reaction of the person controlling the car.
Next to the Dodge exhibit sat the Chrysler part of the display. Chrysler brought four new 2019 Chrysler Pacifica models to the show. One of the Pacificas, a Pacifica S model was on a center turntable showcasing its all blacked-out sporty looks. A 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid showcasing a Mopar charging station for the home was also on display. Chrysler continued to showcase their partnership with BraunAbility with a BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica which is easily the best looking handicap accessible vehicle on the market. And a Pacifica Limited also sat on the floor.
Chrysler also had one 2019 Chrysler 300S on the floor. The Bright White 300S with its black roof stood out in the exhibit. Honestly, the 300S was getting more attention than the four Pacificas were.
The FIAT brand was pushed behind the Chrysler brand in the back corner. FIAT USA had two of the new 2019 Fiat 500X models on display, including one on a turntable. I climbed inside and was surprised to find that FIAT did a lot of work for 2019, to push the 500X more upscale than its platform mate the 2019 Jeep Renegade. The new 500X is very comfortable for my 6’1″ and hefty frame. Hopefully, its enough to boost sales of this impressive small crossover. Sadly, there wasn’t much directing people to that part of the display.
FIAT also had a 2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth and a pair of Fiat 500 models. The low selling Fiat 500L was absent from the display.
Overall, FCA did a good job of putting their display together. While this show is all about the Ram brand, it was sad to see that the Fiat and Chrysler brands were not getting more attention. Especially, the Chrysler 300 of all things.
During the press days, the Canadian automotive labor union UNIFOR had been protesting General Motors because of the announcement of the Oshawa Assembly Plant closing. Would have been a perfect chance for Chrysler to showcase that the 300 is still in production which is assembled in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, as many Canadians visit the Detroit show as it borders with Canada.
Alfa Romeo was also at the show. However, it wasn’t located with the other Mopar brands. FCA decided to join Ford and General Motors with their Lincoln and Cadillac brands, and put their premium brands with the likes of their foreign competitors in the opposite side of the show floor. Alfa Romeo was placed next to Lincoln and the Audi exhibits. Alfa Romeo, the exhibit was small like most of the premium brands but featured the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio (which happens to be selling well in Metro Detroit).
2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Image Gallery: