NAIAS: Next year’s hot technology and autonomous vehicles take centre stage

The new 2018 Camry was unveiled at NAIAS. The vehicle has an aluminum hood, but otherwise depends on high-strength steel for lightweighting. The new car will also be available with a two-tone paint job.

By Barett Poley

Detroit, Michigan — January 10, 2017 — The 64th annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is currently underway in Detroit. A few highlights from this year’s show include announcements about the next-generation Toyota Camry and other vehicles, the brand new AutoMobili-D Exposition and the star of the “Cars” movies transition into the real world.

Modern and growing economies

NAIAS this year has a distinctively positive tone. As the the economy begins to look up for the famous motor city, people, projects and corporations are all looking towards the future, and new technologies are at the forefront this year. Financial experts and investors make up some of the most hotly anticipated keynote speakers this year, including Dan Gilbert, founder and Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, and Chris Thomas, head of Fontinalis Investment.

In 2010, Gilbert moved his headquarters and 1,700 of his employees to Detroit. This faith in the motor city makes him a fitting speaker for NAIAS. The economy, now on the upturn, was the topic of his keynote presentation. Gilbert gave an upbeat assessment of the future for Detroit, and America as a whole, saying the city will be seeing “$2 billion to $4 billion in new construction in the ground in the next 18 months.”

Thomas is also enthusiastic about the future of Detroit. He is the head of Fontinalis Investment, a Detroit-based investor in mobility services and concepts. “Detroit’s past and present has positioned us well to drive the future of mobility, to become one of its global hubs,” he said. Thomas also noted that “Transportation is the second biggest expense for the average US household,” He also said the age of autonomous transportation “will change the world.”

Construction details

The new Toyota Camry has been turning heads at NAIAS. The 2018 Camry utilizes the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). According to a statement from Toyota, TNGA “represents a completely new strategy to the way the company designs, engineers, and packages its vehicles … The physical manifestation is the usage of a new engine, transmission and GA-K platform.”

The new Camry has an aluminum hood, but it predominantly uses high-strength steel in its construction. The safety tech we’ve come to expect from modern autos is definitely present in the 2018 Camry. The car comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, a multi-feature system that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection. Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Automatic High Beams. Select models will also come with standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
All 2018 Camry’s have 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. The vehicles also come equipped with a standard backup camera.

However, one of the most interesting developments regarding the new Camry isn’t its construction. It’s the paint job. “A fair percentage of the next-generation vehicle’s fleet could receive a new two-tone paint option — an eye-catching option that could increase cycle time and severity,” according to a report on Repairer Driven News.

“About 20 percent, we think initially, just to be able to get it out there in the market,” said Toyota Motor Manufacturing President Wil James, as reported by RDN. “… I think that’ll taper off once we get them out.”
Lexus was showing off its new flagship sedan at NAIAS, the 2018 LS. A statement from Lexus says that, “In creating the new LS, engineers used lightweight materials including ultra-high tensile steel sheet and aluminum to carve over 200 pounds from the current LS platform and body … Special braces in the engine compartment, stiff aluminum front and rear suspension towers, and other features help bolster the strength of key chassis structures.” Given that it’s a luxury vehicle, you can assume that it has all of the latest ADAS and safety tech installed.

GMC unveiled the new 2018 Terrain as well. The new truck is available in a number of different versions, but all feature an expanded range of available active safety technologies. The features include radar- and camera-based adaptive technologies that can provide alerts to potential crash threats. According to a Tweet from Repairer Driven News, “Chevrolet, GMC personnel all indicated OEMs opted to use a lot of higher-strength steel rather than aluminum.”

Autonomous vehicles

Self-driving cars and other mobility services are taking a centre stage position at this year’s show. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder officially opened the AutoMobili-D Exposition, displaying the latest in urban mobility, mobility services, connected cars and autonomous vehicle technology.

AutoMobili-D features 120,000 sq. ft. of dynamic display communities in the Cobo Center Atrium overlooking the international waterway and the adjoining Hall E. Attending executives and industry professionals have opportunity to experience firsthand advanced driver assist and autonomous vehicle functionality on a dedicated test track all in one building. Unique communities of participating companies and tech start-ups will cover the gamut of new technologies, including autonomous driving, connected car tech, e-mobility and other mobility services.

The stage was also set for the world unveiling of the Self Driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, co-developed by Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA). John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, was a keynote speaker at the opening of AutoMobili-D, and explained that the first of these vehicles will be appearing on California and Arizona roads later this month. This brings the future just a little bit closer, and has many implications for the collision repair industry.

Hollywood animation made real

Pixar Animation Studios also made waves at NAIAS this year, revealing not only a scene for their upcoming film “Cars 3” but also revealing the star of the upcoming film, Lightning McQueen, in the flesh (or rather, in the metal.) The character, who has been the protagonist of the series since its debut, was revealed by Disney Pixar as a life-sized, working vehicle. The reason for the reveal? NAIAS was the inspiration for the movie series altogether, according to Pixar’s John Lasseter, hence why NAIAS makes such a great stage to reveal the life-sized Lightning McQueen a decade or so after his first appearance in 2006’s animated hit “Cars.”

Watch collisionrepairmag.com for further updates on NAIAS 2017!

LightningMcQueen LG  
Lightning McQueen made his real-life debut at NAIAS 2017.  

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