Every year, the Washington Auto Show, also known as the nation’s “Public Policy Show,” holds a number of events that focus on the policies and developments influencing the direction of the automotive industry in America. As the health of the environment plays an ever more prominent role in the determining of emissions standards and related government regulations, green vehicles and technologies are becoming increasingly recognized for their positive impact on society. Consequently, the Green Car Journal holds its annual Green Car Awards program at the D.C. Auto Show to celebrate automobiles that best epitomize environmental performance.
While driving an environmentally-friendly car certainly has its merits, the question remains whether purchasing one makes for a sound financial decision. Knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees, we analyzed the second-hand market performance for the award nominees to help environmentally-conscious buyers identify the winners and losers in green car value retention.
At the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, General Motors debuted a refresh of its Chevrolet Equinox, the highest volume Chevrolet model—excluding the Silverado pickup truck. Consumers looking for major changes will be disappointed, as the mid-cycle update is more of an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” refresh. However, the brand is hoping it mixed things up enough this time around to keep the model fresh over the coming years.
For 2016, the refreshed RDX received more technology, an improved powertrain and enhanced interior treatments. By adding optional fog lights as well as new LED headlights, the updated lighting design keeps with the illumination scheme seen on the rest of the brand’s lineup. Powertrain improvements include a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Engineers were able to raise the fuel economy of the RDX by utilizing cylinder deactivation technology. The 2016 front-wheel drive model is capable of achieving 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. All-wheel drive versions see one mpg less in both city and highway driving.
Focusing more on the interests of the mainstream buyer, the Chicago Auto Show is the preeminent consumer event of the auto show season. Consequently, automakers were keen on showcasing products that are most impactful for everyday consumers. Crossovers and SUVs from Honda, Acura and Chevrolet stood out from the pack, while concept vehicles from Kia and Mitsubishi hinted at what may be to come in their utility vehicle lineups. Of course, the stars of the recent major auto shows in Los Angeles and Detroit came in full force as well, and we were sure to get another look at some of the most exciting models.
While not the flashiest auto show, Chicago plays an important role for consumers and we were sure to capture the event for you through the digital lens. Be sure to check out our Facebook photo album and Twitter feed to revisit all that transpired.
Arguably the most anticipated press conference in Chicago, Honda took center stage and showcased its all-new Pilot. Last redesigned in 2009, the current boxy look of Honda’s SUV fell behind the style trend as competing crossovers moved toward more fluid, sleeker design language. Shifting sales within the segment reflected consumer affinity for less utilitarian styling, with Pilot deliveries falling by 14 percent year-over-year in 2014, while the industry exhibited 6 percent growth. For a model that realized 1.4 million sales in North America since its 2002 introduction, its recent performance has been uncharacteristic of a vehicle that has contributed to roughly 25% of Honda’s light truck deliveries over the past dozen years.
For Honda, the focus on advanced engineering doesn’t apply to just cars. The company has deep roots in the motorcycle industry as well, which includes participating in the top racing series in the world, MotoGP.
For the last two years, the number one spot on the championship podium has gone to the Repsol Honda team and its rider, Marc Marquez. The winning man rode Honda’s RC213V bike to victory in 13 of 18 races last season, breaking the record set during the 1997 500cc World Championship by former Repsol Honda rider, Mick Doohan. As a result, motorcycle consumers are treated with several trickle-down technologies created for the track via the RC213V-S Prototype. For simplicity’s sake, the superbike is the equivalent of a street-legal F1 car.
Just as it had with the Acura flagship NSX, Honda applied many of its strengths in powertrain innovation, hybrid systems, super-handling technology and advanced body construction to create the Honda FCV Concept―a car that encompasses over 25 years of the automaker’s expertise in developing fuel cell technology. Making its North American debut in Detroit, the successor to the 4-passenger FCX Clarity is slated for the U.S. consumption in 2016. The vehicle contains a 33 percent smaller fuel cell stack, along with a 60 percent improvement in power density. Consequently, the upgrade translates into an estimated driving range of more than 300 miles, while increasing interior space to accommodate five passengers. With a refueling time of about three minutes, the advanced fuel cell vehicle aims to be more livable for American drivers than ever before.
Since its arrival to the U.S. market in 1959, Honda has developed a reputation for excellence in every area of its business, which includes everything from automobiles, to power sports offerings, to power equipment products. The company’s knack for innovation led to it quickly becoming a leader in engineering, with its automobiles becoming synonymous with such virtues as safety, green “Earth Dreams” technologies, and racing. When the original Acura NSX, or New Sports eXperimental, arrived in 1990, Honda shocked the automotive industry with its F1-inspired supercar that was fitted with a mid-mounted 3.0L V6 engine and a number of firsts, including an all-aluminum, monocoque body and Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system. A wave of iconic vehicles would come to follow, including the sporty Acura Integra and Honda S2000 models. One of the results was the creation of Honda fanboys and fangirls from Generation Y and Millennials alike—but the fun would not last forever.
In terms of new products, Cadillac already began making waves at the recent Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows with the reveals of the ATS-V Coupe and Sedan, and the CTS-V. Next in line is Cadillac’s highly anticipated CT6 flagship sedan, which is expected to reach dealer showrooms by the end of the year as a 2016 model. A new, unnamed small SUV is also in the works. Priced under the Escalade, the small ‘ute will be a crucial piece of the brand’s expansion plans, but is still a few years off. “Product development life cycles being what they are, I don't have a date in mind ― but I would estimate it is at least four years away,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen during his keynote speech from the Washington Auto Show, Jan. 22, 2015.
Among domestics, Cadillac has long been the number one luxury brand in the United States, however, a significant gap exists between leading import brands, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus. Over the past few years, Cadillac found itself jostling for fourth place with Acura and Audi. With competition ever-stiffening in the luxury market, the domestic automaker needed to rethink its strategy in order to better position itself for future success. As a result, General Motors shook things up last summer and appointed former Audi and Infiniti executive Johan de Nysschen as President of Cadillac. De Nysschen’s appointment was driven with an eye on transforming the American nameplate into a truly global brand. Having already made headlines with the announcement of Cadillac’s relocation to New York City as a separate business unit ― as well as new pricing strategy with higher sticker prices ― Johan is well on his way to changing how the brand does business. Last week at the 2015 Washington Auto Show, the Caddy president delivered the event’s keynote address where he outlined the automaker’s aggressive plans in the areas of dealer development, manufacturing and product strategy.