A Trip to the Auto Show
LIANE HANSEN, host:
You're listening to Weekend Edition, from NPR News.
This past week, the Ford Motor Company made public its plans to close 14 plants and to eliminate 30,000 jobs over the next six years. Thursday, General Motors announced that it had posted a deficit of 8.6 billion dollars last year, the company's worst loss since 1992.
The flow of red ink at the two big automakers did nothing to slow the flow of car enthusiasts at the Washington Auto Show. This weekend it's drawing big crowds to the City Convention Center, which happens to be across the street from NPR. So yesterday we walked over and talked to people abut the wheels they saw.
Mr. FRED DANIELS: My name is Fred Daniels and I'm from Columbia, Maryland.
HANSEN: You're taking a picture of that red convertible over there?
Mr. DANIELS: Yeah. The Mercedes Benz', the coupes, I guess I'm going through a mid-life crisis (laughs) and I need to check out the sports coupes. I never had one before, so, now the kids are grown and out of my hair.
HANSEN: The show went beyond cars; teenagers were mesmerized by a series of TV's showing the skateboarding video game Tony Hawk's Underground Two. In Jeep country, drivers could go up bumpy hills and over a big bridge. Lynn Alfala(ph), of Alexandria, Virginia, braved the Jeep course with three friends.
Ms. LYNN ALFALA: I'm actually looking at an SUV, maybe not this year, but just trying to get an idea of how they ride, because they are big cars. And also looking at mileage, things like that.
HANSEN: She was not the only SUV shopper at the show.
Mr. RICH LOHASKEY(ph): I'm Rich Lohaskey, and that's...
Ms. DENISE LOHASKEY(ph): I'm Denise Lohaskey. We're from Bryantown, Maryland. I'm in one of the brand new, top of the line Explorers.
HANSEN: Ford Explorers?
Ms. LOHASKEY: Yep.
HANSEN: In the driver's seat.
Ms. LOHASKEY: I was actually looking at the Edge, across the room, and I really, really like that one. We'll probably look at a variety today.
HANSEN: Uh huh.
Ms. LOHASKEY: Not necessarily just Fords.
HANSEN: Tell us your name and where're you from?
Mr. RONNIE GILCHREST(ph): Ronnie Gilchrest, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
HANSEN: Do you drive an Escalade?
Mr. GILCHREST: Yes, I've been driving an Escalade for about three years now.
HANSEN: What do you like about them?
Mr. GILCHREST: It's a gorgeous machine. I may get a divorce, you know, when I buy this 2007. (Laughs) My wife may leave me now, but I got to have it.
HANSEN: The auto industry's equivalent of carnival barkers try to lure drivers over with drawings, giveaways, and tantalizing hints of future cars.
(Soundbite of auto show barkers calling out offers)
HANSEN: Voices from the Washington Auto Show this weekend at the Washington Convention Center. It's 22 minutes before the hour.
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