A Look at Glass Technology at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show

by Dale Malcolm, Dow Automotive/Essex ARG

Right after I return from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit everyone asks what I liked the best. However, it is difficult to single out any one production or concept vehicle. Personally, I always wonder what trend or new idea will dominate the show each year.

One trend whose time has come is the glass roof.

Every car show over the last dozen or so years has had at least one vehicle with a glass roof. Last year, the Ultra-Luxury Maybach 62 went from hood to trunk with four pieces of glass.

That feature has spread to several other production vehicles and numerous concept vehicles this year, including the Mercedes-Benz 2005 E320 CDi Sedan and Scion's tC Sport coupe from the new division of Toyota (see pictures below). These are just two glass-roofed production vehicles that are priced well under $20,000.

This hot new trend of glass roofs will offer new challenges for even the seasoned auto glass installer. If you slip with the cutout tool now, it might mean you just cracked the roof glass doing a simple windshield replacement.

Pontiac introduced a new sport sedan called the G6 and it has a four-panel sunroof that is state-of-the-art. There were quite a few concept vehicles with extensive use of glass in the roofs, such as: the Kia KVC III, Mercedes-Benz Vision Grand Sports Tourer, Honda Sports Utility Truck and the Lincoln Mark X (see pictures below).

One of the most important trends has been the development of hybrid vehicles by almost all of the major vehicle manufacturers.

Lexus introduced a hybrid version of its popular RX330 Sport Utility, which will get approximately 30 miles per gallon and can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than eight seconds.

Honda also announced that it will introduce a hybrid version of its popular Accord model.

In addition to these production vehicles, many of the concept vehicles shown have been designed around hybrid technology. Jeep showed off its Treo Concept vehicle, which seats three and is powered by fuel cell technology (see picture below).

Several manufacturers are working on bio-diesel engines that basically run on cooking oil; this is a renewable resource and reduces dependence on foreign oil. However, the exhaust has been reported to smell like French fries cooking.

Quite a few vehicles were sporting some styling cues that have not been seen for some time. Perhaps it was the lighting or the exaggerated look of the concept vehicles, but air scoops and chrome are back in a big way. From the 2005 40th-anniversary Mustang to the dazzling Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Concept Super car, side scoops are cool again. Replacing many of the all-painted, britework-free vehicles of the 1980s and 1990s are vehicles such as the Lincoln Mark X coupe and the Toyota FTX Concept truck with brilliant chrome grilles and trim (see pictures below).

The Japanese carmakers also introduced several new trucks this year, such as the Honda SUT, Mitsubishi Sport Truck Concept, Toyota FTX Concept, redesigned 2005 Nissan Frontier and new 2005 Nissan Titan Crew Cab (see pictures below).

The American carmakers, however, focused on rebuilding their car lines. Chrysler is introducing a new rear-wheel drive sedan, the 300c (see picture below). Dodge is following suit with the crisp, new Magnum sedan. Ford is replacing the popular Taurus/Sable line with the new Ford Five-Hundred Sedan.

General Motors premiered a pair of two-seaters with the Saturn Curve Concept (see picture below) and the under-$20,000 Pontiac Solstice convertible. Refusing to be outdone in the two-seater market, though, Dodge showed off its 3-cylinder Sling Shot Concept convertible.

Some other two-seaters unveiled at the show were the Lincoln Mark X, Chrysler Crossfire convertible, Volkswagen Concept T off-road sports coupe, Subaru B9SC roadster, Ford Shelby Cobra Concept and the new sixth-generation 2005 Chevrolet Corvette (see pictures below). Chevrolet also showed off its third Nomad Concept car since 1954. The second was shown at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show, followed in 2003 with the current-version Nomad Concept, based on the 1954 version, which was based on the Corvette originally (see picture below).

From concept cars to super cars, high-ground clearance vehicles to Hybrid power plants, it was a fascinating exposition and look into the not-too-distant future. The only thing I couldn't figure out was what was up with that Buick golf cart …

Dale Malcolm is technical services supervisor with Dow Automotive/Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio. See the March/April 2004 issue of AGRR for Malcolm's full review.

2004 Nomad Concept 2005 C6 Corvette 2005 Chrysler 300C Sedan
2005 Ford Mustang 2005 Pontiac G6 (sunroof) 2005 Scion TC (inside sunroof)
2006 Pontiac Solstice Buick Golf Cart Chrysler ME Four-Twelve
Dodge Magnum Dodge Slingshot Concept Ford Shelby Cobra Concept
Honda SUT Concept
Roof Glass
Honda SUT Concept Jeep Treo Concept
KVC III Concept (glass roof) Lincoln Mark X Concept Mercedes-Benz E320
(glass roof)
Mitsubishi Sport
Truck Concept
Saturn Curve Concept Subaru B9 SC Concept
Toyota FTX Concept Volkswagen Concept T Mercedes-Benz Vision Tourer


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