Mud, running engines and G-forces replace fixed screens at Detroit auto show


The vehicles at the Detroit auto show are traditionally impeccable.

Some workers’ only job was to erase fingerprints and keep the vehicles shiny after each visitor had explored them.

Things are different this time around.

Some of the products on display at this year’s version of the show are covered in mud.

The North American International Auto Show has been rebranded as “Motor Bella” for 2021, and is being held at the M1 Pontiac outdoor Concourse instead of the indoor TCF Center in Detroit.

The “experiences” are the key to the event. Participants can ride in a Jeep Wrangler through an all-terrain course of mud, logs, rocks and a giant dirt hill tilted at 35 degrees.

Or take an all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E for a test drive on Woodward Avenue.

Or don a helmet and hop into a Lamborghini, Bentley or Ferrari – among other luxury cars – on the test track of the M1 Concourse.

There are over a dozen “activations” people can try at Motor Bella – and they’re all free, with admission.

“The idea is to put people into the product,” said Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which hosts the show. “Let them touch it, taste it, smell it, see it, be part of the product and learn more about future technology and where it is headed. “

Motor Bella hosted members of the industry and the media on Tuesday, September 21. Wednesday’s event was canceled due to flooding and water damage in exhibition areas. The show opens to the public from Thursday September 23 to Sunday September 26.

Tickets range from $ 15 to $ 20 for adults, parking not included.

Below is a video of the Jeep off-road experience. While we are driving around in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel, there are other options like Jeep Gladiators, Jeep Cherokees and other Jeep Wranglers to choose from.

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

“That’s about all the Jeep would go through that you would want to experience,” Alberts said.

Equally dirty is the neighboring display for Stellantis, which has Ram TRX trucks literally flying through the mud – making 180-degree jumps and turns across the course concocted with special dirt for the event.

Ford also offers plenty of activations, including a ride in a Bronco in deep water, up a giant built hill, and through mud. Watch the video below to see how the experience works.

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

There’s also a deceptively small Mustang Mach-E experience, which only needs a few feet to show off its launching abilities.

“Somehow we had to get away from the static electricity,” Alberts said. “There will always be static cars here… but the other side is, you can get in the car and experience a Mach-E and say, ‘Wow. It’s cool.'”


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