DETROIT, MI — The 2014 North American International Auto Show officially opened to the general public at Detroit’s newly renovated Cobo Center Saturday morning.
A shifting gauntlet of people, many families, filled the concourse; even more swarmed the shiny, new vehicles, some never before seen publicly, inside the show room.
Thirteen- and 11-year-old brothers Miles and Anthony Kimling of Chelsea, first-time Detroit Auto Show attendees, sat together in the leather seats of a 2015 Kia Koup CX counting the days until they can get behind the wheel themselves.
“I think it’s really cool that they set it up like this and they have all the new cars that people can check out,” said Miles. “I’d probably get the the (Ford) Mustang, blue or black.
“I want that Porche, right there,” says his brother pointing toward the silver car blocked by a mass of people.
Their parents, Kate and Sam Kimling, both 40, gave a humph, as if to say, “yeah, right,” after hearing their sons’ dream cars.
The family, like many of the 750,000-plus expected to visit the show during the public days, Jan. 18-26, come to the show out of curiosity and because of the spectacle, not because they are car buffs.
Last year’s event set a seven-year attendance record with more than 770,000 visitors, a number organizers hope to see grow this year.
The 2014 show features over 700 vehicles, including more than 50 enjoying their worldwide premiers in Detroit.
Officials estimate the show brings $365 million to the area economy.
It’s a venue for major manufacturers to match their newest engineering creations against the competition, but also a stage for new companies and innovative technology.
There are electric bicycles, enormous hybrid pickups with solar-beds that use electricity and fuel to get up to 100 mpg, snowmobiles, Harley Davidson motorcycles, driving simulators, handicapped-equipped vans, concept cars and the list goes on.
Beyond the car show, the $299 million in upgrades to Cobo Center competed for the attention of attendees. The atrium is the focal point of the renovation.
“This is so cool,” one visitor said while descending the escalator into the white-marble space with a windowed wall — and ceiling — nearly eight stories high overlooking the partially frozen Detroit River and Windsor shoreline. “This is all new,” he told his friend.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the atrium hosted a private concert by Sheryl Crow, who played during the Charity Review ball, a fundraiser that sold 13,791 tickets at $350 each and raised $4.8 million for charity.
Sia Segan, 6, has been coming to the Detroit Auto Show with her father, Yoginder Segan, 38, an engineer at Chrysler, since before she can remember.
She doesn’t really understand the nuances of the various models, but likes the visually stimulating atmosphere — and the colors.
After taking a break in the new Cobo Center Atrium, Sia urged her dad to take another trip through the show room.
She really liked the race cars, because of the colors, said Yoginder Segan.
When asked what color car she wants when she gets older, Sia replied, “rainbow.”
Follow all of the most recent news for the 2014 NAIAS at mlive.com/naias.