2006 Dodge Viper SRT
Automakers may rethink how they unveil vehicles to media after product news goes online early.
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Automakers' time-honored system of handing out early photos and specs of vehicles to the media and embargoing their release for maximum exposure during the Detroit auto show has been thrown asunder this year by the blogosphere and the heightened competition among media to be the first to show photos of hot new cars.
So far this year, information about the Chevy Malibu sedan, Dodge Viper sports car, the Lincoln MKR concept and the Chevy Camaro convertible has leaked out early on the Web and in car magazines.
On Wednesday, the issue reached new heights when photos of new Chrysler minivans, arguably the most important vehicles at this year's North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center, were posted on a Spanish language car enthusiast site.
The two photos -- one showing the front and another showing the rear of the new minivan -- were quickly posted on other popular sites like Autoblog and Jalopnik.
Chrysler had distributed the minivan information and photos for release Sunday, the first auto show media day, when the company will have a press conference to unveil the next generation of its family haulers.
While Internet leaks are not new, the practice has never been as rampant as today and it's forcing automakers to rethink how they unveil new vehicles.
Chrysler, a unit of DaimlerChrysler AG, battled leaks all day Wednesday.
Jalopnik and Autoblog removed the embargoed photos of the new Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country after being contacted by Chrysler. The automaker was not able to reach the Spanish language site that posted the photos.