Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Vancouver International Auto Show: what to see

Vancouver-Auto-Show-2012_i2 The Vancouver International Auto Show returns to a grandiose, refurbished BC Place Stadium after a one-year absence. The 92nd annual Vancouver show opened its doors to eager tire-kickers at noon on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The doors will remain open for consumers and the curious until Sunday, April 8th, 2012.

This year’s exhibits place emphasis on clean energy vehicles and alternate power sources, such as hybrid technology and electrified vehicles. The show was kicked-off by the Honourable Dr. Terry Lake, BC Minister of the Environment, describing BC’s Clean Energy Plan, which rewards the purchase of clean energy vehicles with generous “point of sale” rebates.

And while many electric vehicles were on display, including the smart fortwo electric drive, the Ford Focus Electric, the Nissan LEAF, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, vast quantities of raw horsepower wasn’t far away. Some of the rubber-burning contenders included the Shelby Mustang GT500, Cadillac CTS-V, Charger SRT8 Super Bee, and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Opening morning saw a number of important unveilings, the most significant of which was the North American debut of the glorious 2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. This sleek 4-door wowed the audience but then so did many other unveilings, such as the Canadian debut of the 2013 Audi S5 Coupe and the regional debuts of the 2013 Cadillac XTS (a Canadian-built Caddy) and its smaller sibling, the ATS. Also unwrapped were a couple of sporty rides, the 2012 MINI Cooper Roadster and the 2013 Scion FR-S.

Several noteworthy supercars made an appearance as well. Visitors will undoubtedly drool over the Lamborghini Aventador, Fisker Karma and Lexus LFA. Of course, these exotic machines don’t represent the needs of the masses. One such vehicle that does is Ford’s new 2013 Escape crossover. It takes convenience to a new level with a power-operated tailgate triggered by sweeping one’s foot beneath the bumper.

Of course, no auto show is complete these days without a nod to hybrid technology, and the Vancouver show embraced the gas/electric partnership with the new Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid and Acura’s hybrid ILX, a completely new car from the upscale manufacturer.

Not to be left out of the hybrid junta, Porsche displayed their Panamera and Cayenne hybrids. While these Bavarians achieve improved fuel economy over their conventional counterparts, no hybrid without a plug matches Toyota’s new Prius c (C for City) for fuel efficiency. This smaller version of the popular Japanese hybrid is rated at just 3.7L/100km in city driving.

Safety has not been overlooked this year. Volvo’s leading PR man, Dustin A. Woods, emphasized safety as a Volvo hallmark during his introduction of an Arctic white, C70 Inscription convertible hardtop. This sunny day delight, along with several other Volvo products, benefit from Polestar-infused performance enhancements.

Along with hundreds of new cars for this year and future years, the 2012 Vancouver International Auto Show hosts a large industry tradeshow on the concourse level of BC Place.

I’ve only scratched the surface of this year’s sights. There’s so much to see and do that visitors are well-advised to wear comfortable footwear and carry sufficient survival sundries enabling them to kick endless tires and wander endless aisles. Have fun!


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