By: Catia Sabak
My experience at NAIAS was nothing short of transformative. Being a Metro Detroit native, I thought I’d seen and heard it all regarding how Michigan, and Detroit particularly, are hubs of the automotive industry. I have watched and read coverage of the auto show and dismissed it as a glorified dealership. After having actually attended this event, however, all of that changed.
It was bustling, chaotic, exciting and fun. I was instantly hooked on the energy and enthusiasm of those in attendance and overwhelmed with new knowledge and pride for the legacy that Michigan and Detroit have established in the automotive industry.
Although I could ramble on endlessly about my wonderful time at NAIAS, I (painstakingly) managed to pare my thoughts down to the three reasons why I believe #MichiganIsAuto.
One element that I absolutely loved about NAIAS, was the abundance of local pride and talent that permeated the event. Everywhere I turned, there were Michigan-made products, Michigan-grown professionals, and Michigan-based advocacy. Students from Lawrence Tech, U of M, Kettering, Michigan State and Wayne State University proudly presented vehicles they design and compete with on an international level, bringing global recognition to the work that these up-and-coming professionals are producing. Additionally, the College for Creative Studies showcased the design talent that is fostered there, proving why they are ranked as the #3 Design School in the U.S. It was encouraging to see the focus on enhancing this homegrown industry with homegrown talent.
*DISCLAIMER: I am not, nor do I claim to be, an automotive expert. But trust me, you know groundbreakingly-cool when you see it.
In terms of the automotive industry, Michigan is where it all began. Automotive innovation is rooted here and only continues to shatter expectations and drive progress. There were innumerable new technologies, products, designs and approaches on display at NAIAS. Among these were autonomous vehicles, alternative energy vehicles, and 3D printed—yes printed—vehicles. Not to mention the drone-delivered model trucks, virtual sales representatives and simulated test-drives that captured the intrigue of everyone there. The world looks to Michigan for the latest and greatest of what the automotive industry has to offer, and this year’s lineup did not disappoint.
Perhaps my favorite part of NAIAS was its ability to garner a positive spotlight on Detroit. In terms of the automotive industry, Michigan is a world leader, a global influence and a sought-after destination for the best of the best. I was thrilled to witness the convergence of culture, technology, media and talent that took place at NAIAS. People from all around the world were awestruck at what Detroit has to offer. The city became a gathering place for people of all backgrounds, and a focal point of the international community. Perceptions of a struggling, bankrupt, broken city were pushed aside in favor of those of a thriving, booming, international powerhouse. I am still amazed at the capacity of this single event to draw such an enormously diverse crowd while establishing a universal admiration for an industry and city.
I’ve spared you reasons four through 1,000+ of why I believe #MichiganIsAuto but assure you that I have a renewed appreciation for NAIAS and what it has to offer. Now it’s your turn. If you visited the auto show this year, what were your favorite parts? Why do you believe #MichiganIsAuto?