Thursday, January 22, 2015

More meandering through the Detroit Auto Show: 3D Printing and Chevrolet

Continuing on through the auto show, one of the coolest displays is by a company called Local Motion. They're using a full-size industrial 3D printer to create a car at the show. It takes them 44 hours to print a fully functional carbon fiber and plastic car (battery, motor, wiring and suspension not included.)

This is what the future of an awful lot of manufacturing looks like:

On to the Chevrolet display:

The new Covette C7.R race car.

Monique sitting in a new Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup truck.

General Motors returned to the mid-size pickup segment this year with the Colorado and the GMC Canyon. The near-total disappearance of new compact and mid-size pickups has been a complete mystery to me, since my own rather ancient Dodge Dakota is a mid-size pickup, and I really like its size. Few suburbanite truck owners or even working truck owners need or use the full capacity of a full-size pickup, so something a bit smaller and more affordable with better mileage makes a lot of sense. But compact and mid-size truck sales really plunged over the last decade. I dunno ... maybe those buyers migrated to compact and mid-size SUVs. Or maybe salesmen succeeded in getting a lot of people to buy way more truck than they needed. But I'm happy to see the segment coming back a bit, since I really will eventually need to replace my elderly Dakota one of these years.

Chevy also had a couple of electric/hybrid cars that caught our eye. Here's the new Chevy Bolt concept car, an electric vehicle with up to 200 miles of range. This starts to look like a pretty practical vehicle:

Chevrolet Bolt.

And here's the next generation Chevy Volt, which has increased its electric-only range from 38 miles to 50 miles and improved its gas-engine mileage from 36 mpg to 41 mpg. If Chevrolet had made this car back in 2008 when we had to buy a new commuter car, we might very well have bought this car instead of our Honda Civic Hybrid.

Most of the pictures of cars coming up in future posts are going to be cool-looking cars that caught our eye. We weren't trying to exhaustively photo-document the entire auto show. But the two pictures of a 3D-printed car at the top of this post and these two photos at the bottom with GM's increasing commitment to electric and hybrid cars are probably the most important photos we took at the show. This is the future of the automobile industry. It looks pretty darn cool.

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