2022 New York Auto Show: Is This The End of an Era?
John Chuhran and Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine - April 16, 2022
After a two-year absence caused by draconian COVID-19 mandates and a focus on electric vehicles which generate minimal enthusiasm among traditional consumers, the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS ) returned to New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Presented by the New York Auto Dealers Association, the NYIAS Auto show provides both the media and the public an opportunity to view the past, current, and future of the automobile industry and allows the auto industry to market to the public in a unique and, hopefully, entertaining way.
While most media outlets have focused their coverage of the 2022 New York International Auto Show on the proliferation of electric vehicles (EV), batteries and charging systems as the future of the industry, MetroSports Magazine took note of how the exhibits on automobile racing help trace the path from early gasoline internal combustion engines, through alternatives to pure fossil fuels, to the present and future of EVs.
Having published on current NASCAR, IMSA, FIA ePrix and other contemporary racing series as well as on the historic 1896 NYC to Irvington Cosmopolitan Race and the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race, MetroSports has previously focused on the sports aspect of the NYIAS. That remains the focus of this publication’s coverage of the 2022 edition of show.
Art Imitates Life
The past and the present met at the Ford display as a legendary Ford GT40-Mark II (made famous to the current generation of readers in the 2019 Christian Bale/Matt Damon film “Ford Versus Ferrari” as the machine that carried Ford to a 1-2-3 finish in the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans), chassis P/1016 which finished third in the famous French endurance test, stood proudly alongside a 2022 Ford GT, a reimagining of the iconic design that paid homage to the actual 56-year-old racer by sharing virtually identical gold paint, giant pink teardrops above the headlights (a visual accent designed to catch the attention of those scorers in the pits who squinted to see the Fords in the darkness and record lap times), and even similar font examples of number 5 that this example carried in the race.
The 1966 car represents the height of the “muscle car era” with a 427-cubic-inch (7-liter) normally aspirated V8 that certainly sounded like it would have been right at home as part of the soundtrack of the movie “Days of Thunder.” Its 2022 relative has a much more refined chassis and powerplant – in this case a 660-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, plus carbon fiber architecture and body, active aerodynamics and a 216 mph top speed – making the Ford GT a racecar that can be driven on the streets. If you have $500,000 burning a hole in your pocket and you have a “need for speed,” the 2022 Ford GT might be what you are looking for.
Hyundai was looking to grab some eyeballs with its Veloster N race car first introduced at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, while Subaru was trying to capitalize on driver name recognition with a display featuring and the WRX STI that former Stadium Supercross champ Travis Pastrana used to win the 2021 Mt. Washington Hill Climb.
A New Meaning for “Showroom Stock”
Toyota continues to focus its North American motorsports participation on the company’s support of NASCAR competition. Prominently on display was a Kyle Busch NASCAR Cup Series show car adorned with the 2021 livery of now-departed sponsor M&M’s and a sponsorless show version of a Tundra saluting the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. With NASCAR expected to announce a change of power plants to a hybrid-internal-combustion combination for perhaps the 2024 season, the links to a past of internal combustion engines and “Stock Cars” (the “S” and “C” of the “NASCAR” acronym) will become even more distant.
The End of the Road?
Formula E, which became the first major series to hold a race in the five boroughs in 2017, has a showcar example of its latest generation racer. The car does look unique, which helps to build its brand, but the sport appears to be losing support of manufacturers. Audi and BMW quit the series after the 2021 season and Mercedes-Benz will follow suit at the end of 2022. Never able to attract even the 20,000 spectators of a Brooklyn Nets game, might the 2022 NYC ePrix at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal be the final effort to get New Yorkers to embrace an auto race for electric vehicles? MetroSports has been there from the first Brooklyn race and we will cover future developments, whatever they may be.
Not Extremely Loud, but Incredibly Close
The 2022 NYIAS features some unique sounds. Since its inception, the show organizers and manufacturers have dreamed of having displays where potential car buyers could experience actually driving cars they might want to buy. Exhaust fumes and the volatility of gasoline made that an impossibility, but with manufacturers trying to promote Electric Vehicles, they finally get their chance. An eight-turn EV Test Track has been erected inside the show for the first time and traditional manufacturers Chevrolet, Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen, Volvo will be joined by newcomers Indi EV and Vinfast in demonstrating their electric vehicles. Sorry, you will only have the chance to ride as a passenger around the track – the manufacturers are not foolish enough to allow the public to speed around a facility with flimsy plastic barriers being the only things that separates vehicles from crowded paths of pedestrians.
The End of the Road, Part 2?
The fact there is a track inside the building begs a question: where did the organizers find the space? Easy answer: Well, half of the world’s auto manufacturers no longer think auto shows are worth the expense and effort to participate. It was hard not to notice what was not there.
The 2022 New York International Auto Show features official displays by just 16 established manufacturers. That represents a decrease of at least 50 percent from past shows. This year, there was no manufacturer participation from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Renault, Peugeot, Opel, Saab, Honda, Cadillac, Buick, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Glickenhaus, Bugatti, Lamborghini, McLaren and Land Rover – and those are just the companies that come quickly to mind.
The world’s largest auto show – the Frankfurt Auto show in Germany – has not held an event since 2020. Los Angeles hasn’t had one since 2019 and the insane mask and vaccination requirements in the Sunshine State make the scheduled November event tentative at best. The Chicago and Detroit shows are just fractional shells of what they used to be.
So, if you enjoy the New York International Auto Show, it might be wise to go this year. There might never be another one.