Auto columnist for The Herald-Palladium

Let’s take a look at the automotive landscape in 2020. There a number news items of interest. Perhaps the biggest Michigan news is that the North American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show) will not be held in chilly January. The new date has been pushed to the warmer, summer-y month of June. I have marked on my calendar June 9-10 for the media preview and the readers should mark June 13-20 on theirs if they intend to attend the public event. Also new: Cobo Center’s naming rights were sold and a new name has been assigned. Cobo is now the TCF Center. So instead of spending two days in January at Cobo Center in frigid weather, this year it will be two days in June at TCF Center in hopefully mild June weather. By the way, wonder what TCF stands for? I wondered too so I looked it up. It is the initials of a Wayzata, Minn.-based financial company formerly called Twin City Federal, but now the company says the letters stand for Treating Customers Fairly. Moving the event to June is a big change, but for the better. I won’t miss attending the NAIAS in the middle of the winter. It remains to be seen if the move can help the NAIAS remain viable as a venue for automakers to introduce new models. Many of the major international auto shows are facing declining participation from automakers.

I mourned the loss of several once-popular auto nameplates in 2019. The list of vehicles taken out of production in 2019 and no longer offered for sale in the U.S. include such longtime stalwarts as the Ford Taurus, Focus and Fiesta, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Cruze and Volt and Cadillac CTS. Unfortunately, the bloodbath continues in 2020 as interest in sedans and convertibles continue to sag dramatically. Hold your hat over your heart and bid goodbye to Ford’s long-running Flex (10 years), plus its sibling, the mid-priced Fusion, Cadillac’s CT6 and ATS, Lincoln’s MKT, the Chevy Impala and Buick’s sassy little convertible, the Cascada. Imports weren’t immune from the consumer’s growing interest in utility vehicles either. Gone from foreign car showrooms in 2020 will be the likes of the Audi TT sports car, Nissan’s Juke, Fiat’s 500 and VW’s iconic Beetle coupe and cabrio. A number of cars are thin ice due to poor sales. Lincoln apparently is debating what to do with its slow selling MKZ and Continental, Chevy with its Malibu, Chrysler with the aging 300, and Dodge with its equally long-in-the-tooth Journey, Charger and Durango. Here’s hoping there is a shift in buyer preferences and a slight shift back toward buying cars will save some of these once-popular nameplates.