Top 5 themes From the Detroit Auto Show

  1. Crossovers, luxury vehicles and performance editions of vehicles
  2. Increased battery range on electric vehicles aimed at reducing range anxiety
  3. Autonomous vehicles on the verge of public testing with Google and Volvo preparing vehicles for city operations
  4. Technology startups supporting the automotive market from last-mile urban mobility vehicles to apps like fintech and insurtech
  5. Home energy management systems using electric vehicle battery packs

2017 NAIAS Key Highlights

With a crossover being the customer’s most preferred vehicle over the last few years, a majority of automakers are focusing on announcing new crossover models and concepts. They have also focused on improving the quality of their products by providing luxury features, in terms of styling or vehicle interiors. The common theme among most of these manufacturers is electrification installed with the goal of reducing vehicle emissions.

Mainstream Brands

General Motors

General Motors launched the 2018 Traverse and 2018 Terrain. GM believes the new Traverse, which is longer than the current generation Acadia, is GM’s second largest vehicle after the Yukon XL, moving from midsize to full size. GM is looking at branding the Terrain above the Equinox, with a premium design that features a sloped floating roof and luxury interior features.


Volkswagen has added 11 inches to the wheelbase of the Tiguan, allowing an increased seating capacity of 7 and greater cargo capacity as well. The I.D. BUZZ concept is a look into Volkswagen’s electric mobility future. The model features an all-wheel drive with motors in the front and rear axles equipped with a fully autonomous mode called “I.D. Pilot”.


The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is 12 inches shorter than the Rogue and is slotted between the original Rogue and Nissan’s Juke. It is based on the Qashqai, which is among the best-selling crossovers in Europe. Nissan also showcased its concept sedan, the Concept VMotion 2.0, with a focus on the design. This concept is expected to be the vehicle design (interior and exterior styling) language to be used for future sedans from the manufacturer.


Toyota has launched the 2018 Camry. This new sedan will be based on the new TNGA platform, reducing its weight by making use of aluminum. Also the Camry features an all-new Lexus-borrowed/-inspired front grille design, all-new infotainment design, adding a breath of fresh air into a vehicle segment that has seen significant slowdown in the last year.


The 2018 KIA Stinger has entered the competitive market of sports sedans, and comprises the longest wheelbase among its competitors, focusing on passenger comfort. It is likely to receive a gasoline V6 engine globally, while diesel engines may be available for the European market.


The 2018 Ford F150 has gone through a mid-cycle refresh which includes a new front grill and wheel design, housing a new diesel 3.0L PowerStroke engine. It has also been revealed that it will manufacture 13 new global electrified vehicles including a F150 Hybrid, Mustang Hybrid, Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid and a fully electric small utility vehicle. Ford showcased its Transit Connect Hybrid Taxi, which is expected to be rested in New York. Ford most likely will start testing wireless charging where batteries will be charged by parked vehicles on dedicated parking spots.

Ford imagined a ‘City of Tomorrow’ concept with the vision of no accidents, emissions and congestion with easy accessibility to mobility solutions.

Ford at NAIAS 2017

Guangzhou Automobile Company Group

GAC Group is entering the US market with an all-new office in the United States’ west coast. In addition, they revealed the GS7 (5-seater SUV) Trumpchi Enspirit concept, and also featured the GA8 and GE3.


The Subaru WRX/WRX STi has been given a restyled aggressive front end for the 2018 model, with a large grille. Subaru also showed the Viziv-7 (7-/8-seater concept full-size SUV) which could very well end up as a production- ready model.


Honda has launched the latest generation of its successful minivan, the Odyssey. The 2018 version comes with features like ”Magic Slide” seats (that can be configured in four different positions), a 10.2-inch screen rear entertainment system, and CabinWatch and CabinTalk, which allow the driver to interact with the rear seats through the screens and speakers.

Luxury Brands—Key Insights from NAIAS


Volvo displayed its V90, which is expected to be sold in the US as a 2018 model. The wagon is going to follow the V90 Cross Country, which will be sold starting 2017. Volvo also announced the first family to take part in the ‘Drive Me’ autonomous driving research program.


Lexus has launched the next-generation LS luxury sedan, which uses the same underpinnings as the LC 500. This platform is expected to offer a blend of luxury and sporty experience. Lexus also unveiled a radical UX concept vehicle offering a glimpse of future of interiors in luxury SUVs.

BMW made its US debut of the new X2 compact SUV coupe concept and the all-new 5 Series, while also revealing the plug-in hybrid version.

Infiniti displayed the QX50 concept, which is going to be based on the QX Sport Inspiration concept showcased in Paris Motor Show 2016.

Audi is entering the SUV-Coupe segment by showcasing the Q8 concept. The production version would compete with the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe. The flagship SUV is expected to feature 4 seats as well as Audi’s latest powertrain options including a full plug-in hybrid. Audi also displayed the 2018 version of the A5/S5 cabriolet and 2018 SQ5.

Audi at NAIAS 2017

Mercedes Benz

The Mercedes Benz GLA has had a facelift, with modified front and rear bumpers and new wheels. LED headlights are now available on the standard variant, while being made standard for the GLA45 variant. It also unveiled a special edition GLA, called Yellow Night Edition, which features a matte grey color scheme with yellow highlights on both the exterior and interior. Mercedes Benz also showcased the 2018 E Class Coupe, a new coupe which blends luxury styling with grand touring performance. AMG, the performance division of Mercedes Benz, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by presenting the Mercedes-AMG GT C Edition 50, the roadster version of the AMG GT sports car.

OEMs that gave NAIAS a Miss

Porsche skipped the auto show to focus on promoting its vehicles at the New York and Los Angeles motor shows, which are its major targets.

Fiat Chrysler had decided to launch its new concept at 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) rather than at 2017 NAIAS, announcing the Chrysler Portal in Las Vegas. Similarly, Cadillac also showcased its Escala concept which was earlier shown at Pebble Beach, California in 2016.

2017 North America Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) Awards

There is a new addition to the NACTOY awards—a utility vehicle category, due to the popularity of the segment—at the Detroit Auto Show 2017. SUV, crossovers and minivans are eligible for this category.

The following are the finalists for this year’s three categories.

Car of the Year:

  1. Chevrolet Bolt
  2. Genesis G90
  3. Volvo V90

Truck of the Year:

  1. Ford F-Series Super Duty
  2. Honda Ridgeline
  3. Nissan Titan

Utility Vehicle of the Year:

  1. Chrysler Pacifica
  2. Jaguar F-Pace
  3. Mazda CX-9

Winner’s Chevrolet Bolt and Honda Ridgeline each received 364 points from the jury to win the car and truck of the year award. Chrysler Pacifica received 300 points to win the first utility vehicle of the year award.
The Bolt has a high range of 238 miles with its price tag below $30K after incentives.
The Ridgeline is a passenger-focused truck, offering car-like smooth driving and even features a trunk under the cargo bed.
The Pacifica is the first ever plug-in hybrid minivan and boasts 35 miles on a single charge, which is sufficient for most urban trips.


For the first time in NAIAS history, a dedicated platform is being launched for the promotion of fast-growing automotive and mobility trends. This special event was inaugurated by Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, and featured more than 100 companies, including OEMs, suppliers, technology companies and start-ups within the five domains of autonomous driving, connected car technologies, eMobility, mobility services, and urban mobility.

Autonomous Driving

As the automotive industry drives down the path of tectonic technological shifts, autonomous driving is expected to be the forerunner. Several companies are working at different levels of technological advancement to enable this technology.

Development amongst OEMs and suppliers has been heavily publicized; however, startups and small companies are also making great progress. Ghostwave, one of the companies to be featured at Automobili D, focuses on providing radar solutions for Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) that are immune to external interferences. These technologies are critical to the proper and safe functioning of autonomous vehicles.

Civil Maps, also working towards autonomous vehicle solutions, focuses on developing systems that can replicate human driving methods for machines. Through map and artificial intelligence technology, the company is working on enabling fully autonomous vehicles to drive on public roads without any human intervention.


Automakers and new companies are harnessing the power of electric powertrain technology that is increasingly becoming more efficient and powerful. Over the years, electric vehicles from Toyota, Ford and GM have been displayed at the NAIAS, but for Automobili D, startups are set to dominate the stage.
TEQ charging promises to reduce the cost of charging for electric vehicle customers and also reduce queuing time. TEQ charging eliminates the need of conventional expensive ‘smart’ chargers with a product that is a tenth of the cost. It is also able to more efficiently manage multiple electric vehicle customers due to intelligent algorithms, saving businesses both time and money for charging vehicles.

URB-E designs and manufactures foldable electric scooters that offer convenient last-mile connectivity options. This award-winning product, weighing only 15lbs, provides customers with a wide range of customizable options, including phone and laptop charging ports. Current Motor also develops electric scooters, albeit with conventional designs but focuses on providing turnkey cargo electric transportation solutions. In addition, the company manufactures portable charging stations that can charge their scooters and provide mobile office solutions.

Urban Mobility

Companies like Uber and Lyft have disrupted conventional mobility models by empowering drivers to earn extra money by using their personal cars to ferry riders. This model also gives customers convenient access to taxis through phone apps at competitive prices. Its success has spurred new companies to follow suit by facilitating easy transportation methods for new solutions.

GoKid is an app-based company that has devised a carpooling solution for children and families. By bringing parents and care takers under one platform, the company is able to consolidate common activities, such as dropping children off at school, through empowering parents in the neighborhood to carpool. GoKid hopes to save time and money for families by using a simple app on their phones.

The Hero app marries all the best mobility solutions into one platform with the goal of safely transporting commuter’s home after alcohol consumption. It displays all available options, including ones that are not on the customer’s phone, and provides options across various budgets. It also presents solutions for customers to be driven home by designated drivers in their own cars, sparing them the cost of hiring taxis.


In 2017, about 26 alternative energy vehicles were displayed (mostly electric) while targeting functionality and increased battery range for example, the Chevrolet Bolt. New utility vehicles including the Honda Odyssey, Jaguar F Pace (chosen as the North American utility vehicle of the year) and the VW Atlas and performance vehicles like the Infiniti QX50 were also launched.

The NAIAS took an interesting and unique turn in 2017 by launching a platform known as the Automobili D, to showcase companies active in the connected and autonomous car space. Several startups and established companies were on display in the hope of increasing interest in a dynamic ecosystem that is considered to be the future of the industry. With more companies participating, next year’s event is expected to continue showcasing alternative fuel vehicles and future technologies.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.