Hard times in the rear-view mirror, GM dominated Detroit with cars we want to buy

what we learned 2014 detroit auto show corvette stingray

The 2014 Detroit Auto Show had a different feeling than it has in years past. Every year over the last half decade that I’ve attended the show, it’s felt hurried and frantic. This year, though, it felt much calmer, much more controlled.

My colleagues picked up on it, too. As I hurried from press conference to press conference, I witnessed journalists pull one another aside, lean in and ask each other “Why? Why the newfound atmosphere?”

It happened to me several times.

At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, you could feel the confidence radiating off of General Motors.

Friends and colleagues would greet me, softly grab my arm, pull me in, as if about to share a dark secret, and ask in a hushed tone, “Does this year feel different?”

“Yeah … but why?” I’d whisper back.

“I don’t know. That’s why I am asking you.”

With Digital Trends’ coverage now concluded, I had a moment to think about it. And the calm demeanor of the show boils down to one simple revelation: General Motors is back.

The General

If you didn’t hear, General Motors won both North American Car and Truck of the year awards this year for its Corvette Stingray and Chevrolet Silverado pickup. General Motors has never won both awards at once. So to say it was a big accomplishment would be an understatement.

The high-fiving didn’t stop there for GM, though. Chevrolet also unveiled the Corvette Z06, which I called the first true American Supercar. Then Cadillac debuted the Cadillac ATS Coupe, which should be an effective shot across the bow of the BMW ship, going after the 4 Series in a meaningful way.

2014 Detroit Auto Show what we learned

Also, the curtains fell on GMC Canyon compact truck, which many journalists agreed overshadowed the much larger Ford F-150 debut, thanks to the Canyon’s top-notch and tech-savvy interior, sophisticated yet rugged good looks, and diesel powerplant.

Lastly, and importantly, GM also announced it’ll begin paying dividends to investors for the first time in six years.

The effect

Why would these GM announcements and awards affect the tone of the show as a whole?

For the last decade, General Motors, along with Chrysler and Ford, have been in scramble mode.

GM and Chrysler fell into bankruptcy and faced losing it all. After years of rethinking its entire model line and strategy, GM is finally making cars people want, ones truly worthy of massive sales figures and illustrious awards.

GM is finally making cars people want.

At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, you could feel the confidence radiating off of General Motors. It was that feeling that everything was going to be OK that changed the whole vibe in Detroit.

Some might say that the overarching themes of the show were aluminum and efficiency. I think that’s reaching. Sure, the F-150 has lots of aluminum bits, as does the Stingray, now North American Car of the Year. But there wasn’t enough aluminum and efficiency for me to say it underlined the entire show.

No, instead, I’d say the theme of the show was the triumphant return to General Motors to the top of the heap. The General has finally crawled back into its formerly held top spot.

And I dare say it’s never been more deserving.

Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Cars

Waymo becomes the first company to charge for rides in self-driving cars

Waymo has launched a commercial ridesharing service using self-driving cars in the Phoenix area. It's the first U.S. company to generate revenue by putting passengers in autonomous cars. Waymo One is only available to a select group of…
News

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Cars

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.
Cars

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.
Cars

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.
Cars

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.