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Amyot Bachand: The Toronto Auto Show

Automotive expert , Updated:
Toronto, Ontario - Visitors at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) can see all the new models available in Canada. In Toronto, there's certainly no lack of space, but the show is spread over three huge buildings, all connected by tunnels and mazes.

Always bigger
Every manufacturer is there, which allows the public to get a glimpse of all their new creations. However, the show's configuration could be improved. If prestige cars interest you, you'll have to walk through all three buildings to find them. And it's always weird to admire a Porsche next to the EnerGuide booth of Natural Resources Canada. It would have been better if they were all regrouped in the same area, like in Montreal this year. General Motors is still the world's number 1 automaker... and it shows: more than half of the Skydome was occupied by its various brands. Despite being number 2, Toyota seemed a little lost next to the American juggernaut. In the North building, Chrysler also took a lot of space.

Past and future
Level 700 was my favorite place. On one side, there were classic '60s cars and a remarkable exhibition on the 100 years of Studebaker called "Studebaker - Different by Design". Before its tragic end, this company was the jewel of great designers Loewy and Stevens, who are responsible for advanced, modern-looking automobiles like the Silver, Gloden Hawk, Gran Turismo and Avanti. On the other side, visitors could appreciate the 38 finalists for the Toronto International Design Contest. The theme for 2007 was "vehicles for people from 16 to 60 in the year 2014". Quite an interesting contrast.

Harsh words?
During media day, on February 14, the president of DaimlerChrysler Canada surprised me with his harsh (but fairly accurate) words on the critics of environmentalists and government representatives about CO2 emissions. "True, we can't deny them, told Reid Bigland. However, today's new vehicles, SUVs included, only account for one percent of all toxic emissions. Instead of putting pressure on automakers to improve their models, the government should legislate and propose incentive measures to make owners get rid of their old cars, which represent over 90 percent of current emissions."

These words did not offend me. That said, there are automakers who admit they could do a lot more -- right now -- to save the environment. Both federal and provincial governments should at least impose emission control standards for trucks and force all vehicles to pass regular, mandatory tests to see if they're in good condition. The idea of creating incentive measures to get rid of old cars is nothing new, but it's worth exploring further. Just look at the vehicles on our roads. A renewed fleet with more sophisticated, less polluting vehicles would undoubtedly help reduce smog.

photo:Philippe Champoux, Ray Watson