Get Your EV Motor Running: The Coolest Cars We Saw at The Detroit Auto Show

The country’s premier auto showcase is back this week with a slew of swanky new rides.

By guest author Emily Dreibelbis Sep 16, 2022 from PCMAG.com.

After a COVID hiatus, the Detroit Auto Show, formerly known as the North American International Auto Show, is back to take over the city’s massive downtown convention center.

As corporate showcases go, this one is different. Everyone in Detroit seems to know about the auto show. It’s open to the public, so many have attended for as long as they can remember (the show dates back to 1899.) It’s just part of the culture of “Motor City,” home of Henry Ford.

Something that wasn’t on display in 1899: Electric cars. These battery-powered vehicles had a big presence across the 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, as major car makers prep to transition to EVs in the next decade. President Biden, a self-described “car guy,” made the trip from Washington, D.C., to talk up a nationwide EV charging network and get some time behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

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Major car companies, as well as startups and research firms, constructed pop-up booths for attendees to browse, and drove cars onto freshly rolled-out carpets to create a sea of shiny, pristine vehicles.

The biggest brands spent thousands to construct indoor driving courses. At least two—like the Jeep booth in the video below—featured metal mountains where test drivers took passengers up a frighteningly steep ramp to show off their vehicles’ traction and braking system.

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The show will be open to the public from Sept. 17-25, allowing car lovers to stroll through the brightly lit, air-conditioned corridors looking for their favorite new releases, most of which won’t land at dealerships until 2023 or 2024. They can sit in the driver’s seat, play with the center console screen, and explore concepts like “frunks”—the front trunks on EVs where the gas-powered engine used to sit.

If you can’t make it to Motor City, though, these are some of the coolest cars we saw in Detroit.

Chevrolet showcased its latest electric vehicles at the show, including this $30,000 electric version of the Equinox with a 300-mile range. It’s intended to be a stylish yet affordable EV.

“Is this the tipping point for mainstream EV adoption? Absolutely, yes,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevrolet, in a speech at the show. “We’re in this for mainstream EV adoption at volume and scale, making EVs for everyone, everywhere.”

Chevy’s other upcoming additions to its EV line-up were also in Detroit: the Silverado EV pickup truck (400-mile range) and the Blazer EV (320-mile range). The Equinox, Silverado, and Blazer will join the Bolt and Bolt EUV in Chevy’s new, expanded EV portfolio.

This is what happens when you set a car design team loose. These cars are not for sale. They’re “concept cars,” which demonstrate Lincoln’s new brand aesthetic. A sign near the purple Lincoln Star reads, “The Lincoln Star Concept showcases a captivating, dynamic new face—introducing the brand’s vision for connected, electrified vehicles in the future.”

This luxury electric vehicle will set you back at least USD 87400, though the top-of-the-line Air Sapphire, which arrives in the first half of 2023, starts at USD 249000. Those with deep pockets can reserve one now. Lucid didn’t have its own booth at the Detroit Auto Show; the car was part of a Dolby sound system booth.

 

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Other buzzy EV companies like Rivian and Tesla also skipped the show. Like Apple, Tesla tends to hold its own high-profile launch events. Its next AI Day is scheduled for Sept. 30. And while Rivian recently teamed up with Mercedes-Benz on electric vans, it only just started deliving its R1S electric SUV to customers last month.

The Hummer EVs attracted a constant stream of onlookers eager to see the iconic brand back in action. After falling prey to the economic recession in 2010, the Hummer has returned in an all-electric form (if you can get one). It’s also extremely heavy, tipping the scales at more than 9000 pounds, thanks in part to its hefty 2,923-pound battery pack. So it’s certainly not the most eco-friendly option. It’s still a Hummer, after all.

That “Ultium” branded battery lies at the base of the vehicle. Announced in 2020, these batteries use pouch-style cells that can be stacked both horizontally and vertically, allowing for lots of flexibility when fitting them within a space. In addition to the Hummer, Ultium batteries power the Cadillac Lyric, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Blazer, and Chevy Silverado.

 

This off-roading, monster-truck-looking SUV made a big splash at the show. It was so popular, we could barely squeeze in to take a picture. “I can’t believe this is actually here,” one onlooker noted. It’s received high ratings across the board, including a 9/10 from Car and DriverCar and Driver. It’s a fan favorite for its performance and features, but on the downside it’s a USD 70000 gas guzzler.

The Jeep Wrangler 4xe, a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) is currently the top-selling PHEV in the nation. At the show, the brand announced two new vehicles to build on that success: the Jeep Willys PHEV and the Grand Cherokee 30th Edition PHEV.

Plug-in electric hybrids have both a gas engine and an electric battery. Unlike a traditional hybrid, these vehicles have charging ports and they store much more energy. That means you can go further on pure electricity than a traditional hybrid, which primarily use electricity for peripheral things like running air conditioning.

This one isn’t one car; it’s a series of thousands of Mustangs driven by owners of the iconic sportscar from Tacoma, Washington, to the Auto Show in a “stampede” (keeping with the horse logo) in honor of the 2024 Mustang reveal. Ford hosted a launch party where it announced the new edition, the seventh generation of the iconic vehicle.

Stampede drivers parked their cars in a long line on the street outside the park where the party was hosted. There were food trucks, music, and a costume contest (“decades” themed, keeping with the idea of many generations of Mustangs.) One new feature that wowed the crowd: being able to rev the engine remotely by pressing the key fob.

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