Trucks, Telematics Dominate at North American International Auto Show

Trucks, Telematics Dominate at North American International Auto Show

by Laurie Harbour, president and CEO

Harbour Results, Inc.


The 2018 North American International Auto Show began Jan. 13 in Detroit, Michigan.


General Motors unveiled its full-sized 2019 Chevrolet Silverado truck during the 2018 NAIAS in Detroit, Michigan.


Jose Munoz discusses the Nissan Xmotion concept SUV at the 2018 NAIAS in Detroit, Michigan. The Xmotion features seven digital touchscreens.

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At the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), car buyers and industry experts who attended could not have missed two key trends that nearly every automaker featured – trucks and telematics.

All three Detroit automakers – GM, Ford and FCA – unveiled new trucks that will launch in 2018. GM kicked off the show by revealing its full-sized 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, while Ford was next with its mid-sized truck, the Ford Ranger. It’s based on the truck of the same name that Ford sells in Australia, New Zealand and Africa and features steel front and rear bumpers mounted to a steel frame, a 2.3-liter engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Finally, FCA introduced its new RAM pickup, which features a highly differentiated front grill, as well as a version with a 48-volt battery and 300-watt lithium-ion battery.

A number of other automakers – including Mercedes, VW, Acura and Chinese manufacturer GAC – featured SUVs and crossovers at this year’s NAIAS. This “truck and crossover movement” supports the growing trend of consumers moving away from two- and four-door passenger cars in favor of larger, more flexible vehicles.

The second trend that was featured prominently this year was telematics or, more specifically, in-dash screens. As automakers continue to offer consumers more in-vehicle features and move away from manual controls, they are turning to touchscreens as a solution.

Some might say Tesla led the way by integrating an iPad-sized screen into its vehicles’ interior, but many of today’s luxury vehicles feature the same technology. Now we are seeing the use of in-vehicle screens across all vehicle segments.

In fact, the concept vehicle Nissan unveiled at the show – Xmotion – featured seven digital touchscreens. It is too soon to tell if more screens are better for vehicle functionality and human machine interface. Likely time will tell, as vehicles become increasingly more complex, if screens are here to stay.

There were three other interesting aspects of this year’s show.

  • Electric vehicles are no longer news. Every automaker had them in their display and have communicated they are investing in the technology a great deal in the near future.
  • The vehicles that GAC had on the show floor were real. Unlike last year, attendees can get inside the vehicles to touch and feel the high quality. Some might say their powertrains are underpowered for the US, but they are one step closer to selling vehicles in this market.
  • The new concept vehicles, as a whole, were underwhelming. It’s difficult to imagine that any of these vehicles will come to fruition, which might be a sign that the changing landscape of mobility and the growth of autonomy are making it difficult for automakers to visualize the car of the future.

Laurie Harbour is president and CEO of Harbour Results, Inc. Combining operational and financial advisory expertise with industry analysis and thought leadership, Harbour Results delivers results that impact the bottom line. The company specializes in manufacturing, production operations and asset intensive industries, as well as a number of manufacturing processes, including stamping, tooling, precision machining and plastics. For more information, visit