Alistair Weaver is the Editor in Chief of Edmunds.com a former journalist, author, and car enthusiast. He has been with Edmunds.com for over a decade and he leads a team of forty content producers and writers that keep Edmunds.com fresh, and engage their car community.
Weaver joined me to give me a brief preview and on North American International Auto Show In Detroit, what he hopes to see, and how the auto show might be in jeopardy. His excitement for the show is dying a bit as he sees signs of struggle. The show is moving the date from January to June, but he believes it might be too late.
Automakers have been pulling out due to lack of interest, but he also thinks digitization, Facebook and Instagram, giving makers more direct access to consumers has hurt shows like this as well. After all, these shows are quite expensive to produce and participate in.
The other challenge is cold Detroit January winters which aren’t exactly fun to combat for travelers coming from all over the world. Hopefully moving the show to June, when the weather is nicer where people can actually drive cars and have more experiences.
Regardless, Weaver is excited about 2019 and here’s why.
Alistair Weaver’s 2019 Reveals
Getting to the good stuff first, looking ahead at the big reveals this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit – several new Halo sports cars, like the Ford Shelby GT 500.
Shelby GT 500 Mustang
This flagship of the Mustang line has over 700 horsepower and will likely raise a lot of eyebrows. At a time when cars are getting more efficient by the day, this gas-guzzling, supercharged muscle car is likely to excite old school car enthusiasts. But why now?
I asked Weaver if it was the electric car efficiency talk that has us craving tradition, or the low gas prices. He thinks it may be a little of both. Some calculations he saw recently are showing in some cases, it’s cheaper to run a gas car than an electric car. But there also may be a collector component in the success of this car.
Weaver explains we won’t likely be seeing these cars in the future, and this is essentially a celebration of the past, so get one and hold on to it, he thinks they may be a collector’s item in the future because this very well could be the last of its era.
Other New Cars
Toyota Supra is all-new, and BMW’s highly anticipated Z4 is finally coming out. Not to mention new Ford SUVs, including the new Explorer, released this week and the three-row SUV Cadillac XT6. Plus a new 1500 Dodge Ram.
New Luxury EV “Tesla fighters”
Tesla has proven electric cars can be sexy, and has validated the industry for the major car manufacturers and they are no longer a side project. In 2019 most major companies will not only be in the EV market but aggressively pursuing new designs. Volvo already vowed to end the combustion engine years ago.
Porsche will be launching the poorly named Taycan Electric Car and the Audi e-Tron, Jaguar I-PACE, and a new Mercedez EQC will be fierce competitors to Tesla, making Weaver curious if Tesla can keep up. Tesla has an army of fanboys, but when we see these other models, will that army dissipate?
Digital Assistant and AI In Cars
Weaver also said there was an interesting collision of ideas between CES in Vegas last week and the North American International Auto Show in digital assistant technology. In the next 5-10 years it’s likely we will be speaking to our cars a lot, and they will be talking back.
Speaking to an executive at BMW recently, Weaver was told can AI and digital assistants in the car, like auto driving, are still on the radar, but provides quite a few challenges. He said that they can solve 99% of the problems really well, but that 1% will take 99% of the time.
He does think the future our kids will likely think we were insane for driving around on public streets with thousands of other people without automation. To get there, technology isn’t all that’s going to have to change, but also, laws must change. Some legal models in Europe are banned in the USA.
So, when can I say “Ok, Google get my groceries?” He wasn’t sure, so if Alistair Weaver, the Editor in Chief of Edmunds.com doesn’t know, I guess I’ll have to check the website after the North American International Auto Show.
(iHeart Radio removed the interview with Mr. Weaver.)