Sunday’s agenda for the 30th instalment of the annual show includes an appearance by US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, a Ford vehicle launch and panels and presentations with industry technology experts and gadflies.
General Motors got things off to an early start Saturday night, unveiling its revamped 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pickups, billed as the “next generation of strong.”
A short video with twangy music and upbeat testimonials from Silverado owners was followed by the introduction of four of the eight Silverado models at different price points and with slightly different styling.
The Silverado was the second best-selling US vehicle in 2017 after the Ford F-series and ahead of the Ram 1500, in third position. All three are pickups.
“Everything’s just bigger here, so I think that’s what makes us just love our trucks,” said Chris Luce, 24, a Silverado owner from Brighton, Michigan who attended the launch.
Other carmakers seen unveiling pickups, SUVs and large “crossover” vehicles include Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota’s Lexus.
The show is expected to be light on electric cars and to be dominated by spiffed up versions of the bread-and-butter vehicles that dominate the US market.
US car sales fell modestly last year for the first time since the financial crisis but came in at a still-solid 17.2 million, well above the 16 million that many analysts consider good.
While the show is primarily an opportunity to ogle what’s coming next from Motor City, politics is certain to enter the discussion as well.
US carmakers are eyeing negotiations to revamp the North America Free Trade Agreement following President Donald Trump’s vows to cut a better deal for US companies and workers.
The just-enacted US tax cut bill, which will boost corporate profits and includes measures intended to encourage capital spending, will also be in focus.
The show is expected to draw some 700,000 people to the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, opening to the public on January 20 following press and industry days.