The New York Auto Show is Back


“This event is a sign that New York is back,” proclaimed Gov.
Kathy Hochul,
opening the first New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) since 2019. There were four false starts resuming the show—a New York institution since 1900—thanks, of course, to Covid.

There have been changes in the interim. Auto shows have continued their global retreat in the last two years, and NYIAS 2022 was smaller than the veterans remembered. But there was still plenty to see, and a confirmation—if one was needed—that the industry is on an irrevocable journey to electrification. 

Exhibit No. 1 was the World Car Awards, which gave the electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 no less than three awards: It was car of the year, electric car of the year, and car design of the year. The performance car of the year was another electric, the Audi e-tron GT. The only non-EV was the urban car of the year, won by the Toyota Yaris Cross—a car you can’t even buy in the U.S. “We have to get that one over here,” quipped a New York Toyota dealer.

Electric, Electric, Electric

Over at Jeep, they were showing some traditional models, such as a long-wheelbase Grand Wagoneer L with a black roof, but there was also ample celebration of the Grand Cherokee 4xe, the company’s second plug-in hybrid after the Wrangler. The Cherokee 4xe will also get a High Altitude version, and the Wagoneer L a loaded Carbide variant. 

“For Jeep, it’s full speed ahead on electrification,” said Jeep CEO
Christian Meunier
at a hotel press briefing.  Hyundai was on a roll with the triple World Car wins, and Global CEO
José Muñoz
said that it is “the fastest-growing mainstream auto brand. The demand for the Ioniq 5 is overwhelming.” 

Sales were up 23%last year, and SUVs are 65% of those sales. The news from the company was a 2023 Palisade with a third-row folding seat, a new grille and the Calligraphy as a top model. 

Kia’s futuristic EV9 concept is headed for production.

Jim Motavalli photo

Kia’s EV6 is a sister car to the Ioniq 5, and maybe it deserved to win the World Car design award, but Kia isn’t hurting too badly—it just had its second-best quarter ever. It’s also second in electric vehicles sales (after Tesla), thanks to having not one but two battery models—the EV6 and the Kona. Kia Chief Operating Officer
Steven Center
said Kia will have 14 EVs by 2027—and will be releasing them at a rate of two per year. The plan is for 1.9 million global battery car sales by 2030. 

The Niro is redesigned for 2023, with styling (including a cool rear “aero blade profile panel,” with inspiration from the HabaNiro concept first shown at NYIAS in 2019.) All three versions of the new Niro are electrified, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric. The boxy and angular Kia EV9 SUV concept—a cousin of Tesla’s Cybertruck—was green-lighted for production in 2023, initially in Europe. The 2023 Telluride was also shown, with a new grille and roof, LED lighting and a cladding update.  

Chevrolet featured a walk-around of the new and highly competent 2024 Silverado EV truck, built on the same architecture as the Hummer EV. Along with Ford’s F-150 Lightning, it gives consumers who love trucks a real choice in the marketplace. The Silverado EV will offer up to 400 miles of range, up to 664 horsepower, 10.2 kilowatts of offboard power for work stations (with optional equipment), rear-wheel steering, home blackout protection, and up to 10,000 pounds of towing and 1,300 pounds of payload. And it starts at US$39,900. 

The Chrysler brand was once one of the holdouts against EVs, preferring high-performance models. But under Stellantis’ global direction it’s doing a complete turnaround. Chrysler Brand CEO
Christine Feuell
said in New York that the company will introduce its first battery vehicle in 2025, and by 2028 the whole brand will be electrified. “We will perform like a startup,” Feuell said, and indeed that’s needed to wean the brand off internal combustion. 

The electric show car, revealed against a backdrop of “Gotham City at night,” was the Chrysler Airflow (an old name reclaimed) Graphite Concept in black, with Cyprus Copper accents along the tops of the side windows. A version of the Airflow—with an estimated 400 miles of range in the concept version—is what will go into production in 2025. 

The Polestar Precept is ready for walk-in traffic.

Jim Motavalli photo

Startups in the Spotlight

That was about it for the mainstream automakers, but the press conference schedule was light enough to give some startups an opportunity. INDI EV showed its first electric car, the INDI ONE, with a minimalist cabin, a panoramic sunroof and an emphasis on its capacity for in-car high-end gaming and up-loadable content creation. The INDI ONE starts at US$45,000, and pre-orders have begun. A plus for the company is the involvement of
Tom Gage,
a battery pioneer involved in the car that became the Tesla Roadster. 

A very stylish EV hypercar, the Vayanne, is a partnership with maker Deus, Williams Advanced Engineering and the iconic Ital Design (founded by
Giorgetto Giugiaro
). Major credentials, and a big US$2 million price. Design director
Adrian-Filip Butuca
said the Vayanne can reach 60 miles per hour in less than two seconds, and will offer 2,200 horsepower, 1,474 pound-feet of torque and a top speed of 248 mph. Only 99 will be built, starting in 2025, and Butuca said no two will be alike. “That’s how we preserve the exclusivity,” he said. 

A company called Gravity showed its upscale Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y electric cars in New York taxi livery. They’re already on the road, with a range of entertainment options in the back seat. But Gravity’s main pitch is a new 360-kilowatt fast charger that uses proprietary technology to reduce charging bills. Some 24 of them are being installed at the Manhattan Plaza EV charging hub on 42nd Street.  

In a sign of the times, a number of new model introductions happened away from the show floor. BMW showed its first-ever electric 7-Series, the i7, in downtown Manhattan on April 14. Production will start in the fall. Genesis debuted a new electric concept car, the very good-looking X Speedium Coupe, at its cultural space in Manhattan. Genesis also said it would build its electrified GV70 SUV in Montgomery, Alabama starting in December. 

Polestar had its Precept electric concept car—the only one with an interior—at its space in Midtown Manhattan. It got a warm reception from people who saw the show car (introduced in 2020) and now the Precept is headed for production as Polestar 5. An on-sale date will be revealed in 2024. 

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