Volume 9, Issue 1 - January/February 2007

Raising the Roof

Onsite at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit
by Dale Malcolm 

The consensus of those interviewed at the North American International Auto Show, which was held the first part of January at Cobo Hall in Detroit, was that this is the best show in years. However, in looking around the trade show floor, I couldn’t help but think of how the new car and truck business parallels the auto glass replacement business: There are new competitors every year with slowing growth in sales.

No Free Radicals
While there were no radical shifts in glass and its installation on the vehicles at this year’s show, it is clear that an increasing number of vehicles (concept and production) are incorporating extensive glass in their roofs. While some of this overhead glazing is in folding hardtops, there are many vehicles—from a Scion to a Mercedes—now using multi-lite sunroofs in everything. If you are not currently experienced in working on these overhead glass roofs, it is recommended that you start to educate yourself. Much of this work may be as simple as a quick bolt in part or it could be an entire multi-module that needs to be replaced. 

In the vehicles at the show, less and less exterior moldings were seen around fixed glass parts; the bare-edged glass transitioning to the finished body surface is now becoming the norm. This glass is difficult to remove without scratching the vehicle and cutout from the inside means working very close to the extensive electrical wiring and complicated safety devices like side curtain airbags.
Prices Going Up
Glass will continue to get more expensive, and value-added features like rain sensors and the increasingly difficult installations will challenge even the most experienced technician.

The 2007 North American International Auto Show opened with a double win for General Motors. It won the North American car and truck of the year awards for the Saturn Aura sedan and the Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

The real stars of the show are the concept vehicles. Some of these are so outrageous that it is hard to believe anyone would even spend the money to build them. These vehicles will spend the next 12 months posing for pictures and traveling from local car show to car show. The surveys given to the public at these shows will help the designers gauge what the car buying public is really looking for in their next vehicle purchase. One design feature that seemed to be on a high percentage of vehicles is the “fender vent.” These have been on cars like Buicks and Maseratis for years. The most recent vehicle to incorporate this styling was the 2006 Cadillac Escalade. 

Dale Malcolm is technical manager with Dow Automotive/ Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio.

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