2016 NAIAS sponsored by Ford by Sonia Kang | February 14 2016, 0 Comments

The minute we hit cruising altitude aboard Delta’s Boeing 767 en route back to California from Detroit and the captain said it was ok, I whipped out my Mac Book and started writing. For the last two days I was a guest of Ford enjoying my first NAIAS auto show. It was the second event my 16 year old, Gabe, has been excited about one of my media events. The first event found him smack dab next to one of his favorite athletes.

I knew he was excited because he text me incessantly throughout my time in Detroit asking "what vehicle are you looking at now" and "have you found my new car there?" I chuckled thinking about this as I stared out the window, thankful to leave behind the snow and 20 degree weather and head back to a, cold for LA, 60 degrees.

I reflected on how I can’t believe he was old enough to be asking about ‘his” dream car. What felt like mere moments of his life: like starting t-ball, kindergarten, learning to ride a bike have all passed by so quickly and now he’s driving, let alone, asking for his own car.

Unbeknownst to him, I WAS looking for potential vehicles for him while at NAIAS. I just couldn't tell him yet.

 

As invited media at Ford NAIAS, I reported and shared the great things I learned about the new vehicles and all the 2016 trends like how Ford is streamlining the shopping experience through the use of Beacon technology at its dealerships. I learned that Beacons are low-energy, Bluetooth-enabled sensors fitted to vehicles that push educational pop-up notifications to your hand-held devices. Simply put, Ford is rethinking the consumer experience by finding ways to connect and engage them. This is all helpful as a media person, but believe me, Gabe's mama was there, too, looking at all the quality features for her son's first car.

I heard how Ford products and services are designed with the consumer in mind. They aim to attain a trifecta: quality, versatility and durability. They know we are about living smarter by pushing to get greater use out of fewer things. I know as a mama of four, I sure am looking to live smarter not harder.

I stopped writing for a bit to look out the window and think back on how fast my son has grown up. I remember his birth, a big boy weighing in over 10 pounds. He looked like a 3 month old in the new baby window alongside all the other babies. He would stay in with the nurses for hours as they tested his blood every hour making sure his glucose levels were ok. He was not a baby born to a diabetic mom as suspected. Just a big baby who would continue to be big as each year went by. Now at 16, he is close to 6 feet and towers over my husband and I. From all accounts he looks like a man but, like all four of my children, they're all my babies and will always be.

Although the second child, he is the first I have gone through the whole driving experience with. His older sister was born with a genetic disorder and has medical issues that preclude her from driving. She has expressed a desire to drive, but at this time it is not an option. When she was young, the doctors said she would not walk or talk but with help and determination, she did both. Right now they say she cannot drive but she has proven them wrong in the past so I don’t underestimate my brave girl.

On the day of my son’s drivers test I got our car washed and cleared out all the trash a mama with four kids collects. As I picked up tennis balls, old homework papers, school announcements, coins, a report card and field trip slip (dang, that’s where it was).

I got gas and gathered all the required paperwork for the DMV. As we drove to the DMV, I could hardly finish my pep talk before I was a blubbering fool talking to him about how fast this day had come. "Remember when you were 3 and you pretended to drive my F-150?" “No” he said with his sheepish grin. “Well I do and I just want to tell you I love you and still see you as that 3 year old. Good luck on your driving test, mijo (son in spanish). Drive slowly, use your signals, and watch for traffic." And what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t give him the speech my mom gave me and her dad gave her? "Driving is a privilege and should not be taken lightly. Your life and the lives of others around you are at risk if you do not pay attention and drive safely.” “Yea mom I know, you tell me all the time.”

We were all checked in and I started to exit the car when he said: “be thinking of the car you’ll be getting me!” Ha I thought, teenage cockiness. I sat on a bench awaiting his return feeling a bit helpless I couldn’t help him with this. He had prepared for this moment and he had to do it on his own. My baby was growing up and was checking off yet another milestone in his life. He was doing his part and I would have to do mine by finding him a vehicle I would be comfortable with him driving so back to The Auto Show story.

It was my first year at The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed sitting in the vehicles, checking out such things as the new Gorilla glass (a hybrid windshield that's thinner than laminate glass) and all the state of the art accessories like Amazon Echo personified as "Alexa" that can respond to queries and perform various digital tasks. What I really loved while at NAIAS was the interaction I had with the actual people OF Ford. I got a chance to listen to the whys and hows behind the vehicles. The attention they put into their vehicles and, more importantly, how they value me, the consumer. That they think of HOW I will use the vehicle was important to me.

I also enjoyed meeting and talking to Elena Ford as she shared the history and the future of Ford and Ford products.

Ok, now back to Gabe and his drivers test. He pulls into a parking spot, the instructor gets out and I try to look at her facial expression for any indication of good or bad news. None. She walks away and he exits the car toward me. “Well?” I shout. He gives me the thumbs up and is grinning from ear to ear. We go inside arm in arm to finish his paperwork and he’s talking a mile a minute. I let him know how proud I am of him and say "wait, now you’re not going to need your mama to drive you around anymore, huh?" (Sniff). But our tender moment ends as he says: “ya mom, I still need you. I need you to drive us home because I need to text all my friends and tell them I passed!”

That’s my boy!

 

 

Shhh, don’t tell him yet but stay tuned because car shopping is up next.

Below is our list of potential vehicles:

       
The Explorer- Eco boost engine. Efficient power. Advanced active park assist. Sync technology lets you use your voice to make a call, to change the radio, and to control the climate.
The F-150-considered the safest F-150 ever. It received the 5-star crash testing rating. It is lighter, stronger and more durable
Disclosure: this was a sponsored event by Ford but opinions are my own.