Remaking Motown | Arts & Culture

Remaking Motown

Remaking Motown

Image from the 2010 North American International Auto Show. Image courtesy of CarAndDriver.com

So, a car is just a car? Yeah right.

Get real.

For most people, the North American International Auto Show is a chance to get an up-close look at this year’s domestic and foreign models. Yet there’s more than meets the eye behind the intense competition for critics’ choice awards and consumers’ wish lists.

Image from the 2010 North American International Auto Show.

Image from the 2010 North American International Auto Show.

The love affair with cars, trucks and electronic gadgetry is a snapshot of what lies at the heart of metropolitan Detroit culture — cars, talking about cars, and admiring cars. In many ways, this year’s innovations are the first outward signs in the remaking of Motown and the U.S. auto industry since last year’s federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. With the latest news of Ford Motor Co.’s impressive fourth-quarter profit, and the thumbs up to the decidedly green turn toward hybrid and ecological-minded models, there’s plenty to admire about the future of innovative designs and engineering.

Sure, it’s a car show. But it’s also a visual delight. When extracted from the framework of an automobile, the design, colors and shapes look as if they could come from the brush of an abstract painter, or formed by a minimalist sculptor.

Bruce Belzowski is a professor at the U-M Michigan Transportation Institute.

Bruce Belzowski is a professor at the U-M Michigan Transportation Institute.

In the days prior to the opening, U-M’s Bruce Belzowski (below) strolled through auto show, scrutinizing the latest models of cars, trucks and SUVs.  Clearly, according to Belzowski, automakers are focusing on sustainability, while improving milage efficiency. The result is an emphasis on hybrid technology and environmental responsibility.

Belzowski, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Institute, is a widely respected and cited source with a deep understanding of the challenges facing automakers. His analysis of this year’s show can be heard by visiting the video link below.