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2022 New York Auto Show Recap – The City That Never Sleeps Takes a Nap

Although the 2022 New York Auto Show isn’t the first major auto show to be held since COVID-19 shut the world down in March 2020 – Chicago had shows in 2021 and 2022, and Los Angeles was in its usual slot last year. And there was Motorbella in Detroit last summer.

Still, for whatever reason – the loosening of COVID restrictions, the fact it was the first New York show since COVID, the presence of NY-based journos who don’t deign to travel west of the Hudson for those other shows – there was a pre-show feeling that this was it. This would be the show that marked the return of normalcy. Not LA in 2021 or Chicago just a couple of months ago – no, it would be this one.

Well, not quite. Not if you define “normal” as at least one auto-show press day filled with debuts of all-new and redesigned vehicles, maybe with a cool concept or two thrown in. Instead, we got two refreshed three-row SUVs that happen to share a platform, a refreshed crossover, a lengthened full-size luxo-barge SUV, one interesting concept that’s a variation on another concept that’s already been shown, a refresh for another crossover that was so quiet the manufacturer didn’t even bother with a press conference, and press conferences from a bunch of EV startups – only one of which seems worth keeping an eye on.

Blame it on COVID, supply-chain and chip shortage issues (which are, in part at least, related to COVID), the cadence of product launches, the slow move to off-site events at auto shows, or some combination thereof, but the 2022 New York International Auto Show was relatively quiet.

I don’t even have strong takes. The updates to the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are so mild that I shrug. Adding length to the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer doesn’t move my needle much, either, though I’ll note that already odd-looking proportions look even odder, especially in photos.

Other than VinFast, which, again, is a company that bears watching, my interest was mostly piqued by the Chrysler Airflow – it looked closer to production than one might have expected, and it could help put the shrunken brand back on the radar. It might be the closest any “new” vehicle shown got to being the star of the show. Ironically, the Chrysler stand – home of an arguable star – was way off in the corner.

Even the off-site action in NYC was limited. Ford did something with the Lightning that I was unable to make, and that appears to be the only off-site event in which a vehicle was shown – and the Lightning has already been unveiled. BMW also did an invite-only event on the morning of the show’s second day, and TTAC wasn’t on the guest list.

That’s a contrast to previous years, in which journalists stood awkwardly sipping cocktails in random art galleries and event spaces, waiting for OEM X or Y to take the wraps off a new car. The spectacle usually involved thumping music and boring, self-serving speeches – and occasionally some sort of artistic performance. I still remember a Scion – yes, Scion – event on the West Side that involved some sort of trapeze artistry and weird lighting tricks.

Maybe it’s just the lack of so-called “fun” cars. The Toyota GR Corolla was there, but it had already been shown off-site a few weeks ago. The only truly “sexy” cars unveiled at the show were a supercar from startup Deus and an electric version of the old Shelby Cobra. Otherwise, it’s crossover central, since that’s where the market continues trending.

Again, was the NY show a shell of itself because of the problems dogging the industry? Or just the result of the ebbs and flows of product-launch cadence? Is this just another sign of what I’ve argued for years now – that auto shows are for the consumer, and not the media?

I don’t know. If I did, I’d be working a high-paid consulting gig instead of slogging away as a lowly blogger. I think the real key will be seeing how a true late-summer show goes in Detroit this summer – and seeing what happens in Los Angeles two months after that.

Maybe the auto-show media day is dead. Maybe it isn’t. All I know is that if you’re hungry in Hell’s Kitchen, I know where you can get a good chicken parm sammich for a reasonable price. I also now know about a certain bagel place that seems shaky about getting orders right but produces food so good you won’t care.

I mean “TTAC eats its way around Manhattan” has to be better than a bunch of posts about forgettable crossovers getting forgettable refreshes, right?

OK, fine. I see that look you’re giving me. Let’s hope for more news next time.

[Image © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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