La Auto Show 2010

November 20, 2010 by USA Post 

La Auto Show 2010, Mid-November LA Auto Show always starts the new season. Then Detroit in January, February Chicago and New York in late March. Everyone wants the designation of being the first show of the United States. Only Detroit supports the designation, but LA is not far behind. Neither is Chicago.

This is my first show in Los Angeles. I covered the regular shows, including Detroit and Chicago, and found the show in LA a combination thereof – with the crowd’s oppressive Detroit and wide-open, seemingly unlimited space in Chicago. New York has neither the crowd nor the press-day spaces. The intensity of the schedule (almost 20 press conferences in one day, including dinner) is tied with Detroit, of course, but if you go to try to catch everyone you can just sit back cruise stage and a relaxed otherwise.

Three other differences emerge between shows in Detroit and Los Angeles.

First, we pass a building or walk around the sites that we’re in the comfort, the warm weather of Southern California. We can sit at the patio table outside and relax if you want. Try that in Detroit in January or February in Chicago and you’ll probably suffer frostbite.

Second, the newsroom is THE way less international in flavor. Spending time in the press room of Detroit, you’re likely to hear people at the next table spoke Italian, Croatian, Thai or Azerbaijan. At least half the people there to press on another continent. In Los Angeles, there is definitely an Asian influence with some Germans and other Europeans, but that’s all.

Thirdly, hospitality (food, drink and entertainment) are only a fraction of what we find in Detroit. I hear you cry a big tear for us who have to cover the show without being treated like royalty. Do not worry, because we’re generous souls and manage in spite of adversity.

None of them have much to do with the car, I know. So what about the show? Here are some highlights:

We expected to see a lot of green here and were not disappointed. Although the practice and the need for green design are questionable for some, the trend is undeniable. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of brands that do not show an electric car or hybrid. Ford introduced the first electric version of the Transit Connect small utility truck and Captain America’s Ford, Mark Fields, reminded us that they have a Focus power ahead.

Mitsubishi has announced the production-ready, made for the American version of their little egg-shaped iMiEV, and GM touted the Volt again, just being delivered to first customers now. Volvo has an electric version of the C30 convertible sports, and even has an electric MINI to come. Honda has announced a new electric version of its Fit little, and Infiniti has a new high-performance M Hbrid well soon.

Chevrolet Volt, by the way, remains the darling of the automotive world green, it seems, winning three top honors – Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine of the Year and Green Car of the Year.

Kudos to Mazda, by the way, which has resisted the trend and shows no electric, hybrid or anything for free green. We appreciate your company its own way. Instead Mazda introduced the update of their popular, handy, crossing three small seats, Mazda5. It is the final influence of language “Nagari” design that has defined the Mazda cars and crossovers for the last six years. The new language model, called “Kodo” affects the coupe concept drama Shinar presented here. The buzzword among developers these days is “tension” and it certainly has that.

Volkswagen introduced the EOS much refreshed convertible at a flock of top, young unruly during a party and press conference at their design center in Santa Monica. The room was filled with young people attracted to the event by a couple of stars with whom I did not know. The rest of the room seemed to love. Germans are used to make speeches to dry and press conferences and they tried this once but it did not work. The overwhelming din drowned what was happening on stage. Then, to add insult to injury, the hood would not go down hard.

We were pleased to see Dodge and Chrysler out of hibernation with apparent attractive new stuff. Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 for updates and upgrades without losing the semi-retro feel that braces when these first models came out. Durango and the Town & Country also get major updates. And the tinsel, Sebring mid-size sedan, now called the Chrysler 200, was transformed into a slick new car using the same structural basis, but with exponential improvements powertrain, suspension and interior. While I thought the front fascia on the Chrysler 200 was more white bread than it should be, the rest of the car looks great especially inside much more enjoyable and more functional.

Speaking of Chrysler, now a sort of favorite of Fiat, we saw again the sweet little Fiat 500, we will be able to buy here soon. Built in Mexico, the 500 seems like a great experience for me. At a little over 15 grand, it seems that not much for the money. I will reserve my decision until I had some time with her. Making a profit on small cars in the U.S. market has never been easy and has rarely, if ever, worked. Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat boss was present at the press conference but did not say a word. I’m not sure I’ve never seen a car company CEO with a more casual behavior. Our correspondent in Europe, Henny Hemmes, reports that the Fiat 500 is not well seen on this side of the pond, it will be questionable here. I’m rooting for it because I love Italian style and ambience.

We had hoped to see something of the new small Cadillac called ATS, recently announced to be produced in Lansing, MI Grand River Plant, but nothing has been forthcoming. Instead we found a powerful little slick urban concept called ULC (Urban luxury car), reflecting all that dramatic, edgy design language Cadillac in a small package of scissors door. It looks nothing like the new little car from Lansing, I’m sure.

Land Rover, now owned by Jaguar with the Indian company Tata Motors has revealed their most fuel-efficient vehicle yet, the recall, a small crossover powered by a turbocharged 2-liter (a derivative of Ford’s new EcoBoost engine direct injection 4-cylinder) is about 240 horsepower. It is due next summer as a 2012 model and will sell about 45 grand. Mention was revealed at the recent Paris as 3-door sports, but here we see the 5-door configuration.

More on the Nissan stand, we stumbled on the answer to the question nobody asked – a Murano convertible, believe it or not. It reminds me of the convertible PT Cruiser, a means of transport which seems incongruous bulky enough without top.

Perhaps the most important introduction with the potential to change the market landscape is brand new Hyundai Elantra. Once a compact economy, they bring this high-end, make it bigger, complete with a surprise inside, it’s beautiful style, as brothers and sisters Sonata and still put it into sub-15.000. I will attend the official launch in a few weeks and we will report in depth then. Hyundai has organized a great party Wednesday night with the Elantra is invaded by their hosts with executives beaming nearby. Jeff Bridges entertained by fire dancers and sirens. Great party.

My Best in Show award goes to an electric Jaguar (remember: the correct pronunciation of the name has three syllables – jag-U-ar, not jag-war or that our son Jaiga cowboy local Chevrolet dealer, it is pronounced). The revelation has sparked serious oh and ah jaded press as a designer Ian Callum introduced this concept car called the C-X75, an extended range electric car great. The C-X75 seems as sxy as science fiction and as a stripper sensual than the original XK-E, capable of more than 200 mph and 0 to-60 time of 3.2 seconds. Two small wonders of micro gas turbine power generator of compressed air to increase the electric propulsion system for a range of 560-mile announced. This car deserves a lengthy article of its own. Of course, I hope to have the opportunity to say sometimes.

Oh, one more difference between private Detroit and Los Angeles comes to mind. In Detroit, we saw a variety of Chinese and Asian automakers aspirants showcase their ware. Here in Los Angeles, there were no entries Chinese, with the exception of Volvo. Yes, Volvo is now owned by the company Geely of China, which bought the struggling Ford brand and has hired one of the stars of the company, former German owner Volkswagen, Stefan Jacoby. Presenting the keynote address to start the press events Jacoby was presented as German, in charge of a Swedish brand now owned by a Chinese company to present their plans here in Los Angeles. Volvo remains a distinctly Scandinavian range of cars.

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