In Los Angeles, the auto industry is holding its breath. Change is coming, but no one exactly knows when or how EVs or self-driving cars will make a dent in the way Americans drive. What is clear is that if new technologies are successful, California, with its push toward zero emissions and lucrative tax incentives, will lead the way in the charge.
The vast majority of the thousand cars on display at the Los Angeles Convention Center are powered by traditional gasoline engines and offer seating for at least five passengers. But the heightened presence of EVs and announcements about new car-sharing programs show that carmakers are turning the page in the old playbook. Signs are everywhere of nascent change, starting with Tesla’s Model 3 display front and center on the show floor, as a reminder that new players are contenders.
Auto shows are where consumers go to shop for their next new models. LA may be known for convertible top-down cruising, but these days what dominates the road — and the auto selection — is a sea of sports utility vehicles.
The Los Angeles Auto show runs through December 10th. Here are some of the standouts we saw during the media preview.
Land Rover Range Rover Plug-in hybrid
Land Rover has long been the maker of the guilty pleasure SUV — big, burly vehicles that have fine fit and finish, ample power to overcome extreme conditions, and old English gravitas. In exchange for all that power, they exhibited notorious gas guzzling behavior. Those days could be a thing of the past if the plug-in hybrid Range Rover takes off when it goes into production. While it only offers 31 miles of electric range, it’s more efficient engine and intention shows that soon guilty pleasures don’t require cheating on the fuel-consuming diet.
Mini Electric Concept
BMW is opening up its i-brand electric portfolio to include its more classic breadwinners in the product range. The Mini Electric concept, which if made, will include 150 miles of battery power.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Project One
It’s an EV for posterity’s sake that will run 20 miles in electric range, but the cause for bragging rights is more about its $3 million price tag and slinky looks. It’s breathtaking in person.
Volvo continues to deliver sleek, Scandinavian style to its growing portfolio. The XC40 is the latest compact SUV offering and it continues the contemporary approach to interior design and screens that we admire. Nifty innovations include a built-in trashcan.
Bollinger B1 SUV
Tucked away amongst the utilitarian vehicles is the intriguing Bollinger B1 SUV. It’s promising 120 miles of electric power and a modest $60,000 price tag.
BMW i8 Roadster
BMW injected zing into its next generation i8 roadster exterior. It showed both a coupe and convertible. Changes are more than cosmetic as range and power are improved from the last generation.
VW I.D. Buzz
VW is on a campaign to restore trust and joy to its diesel-stained exterior. That’s one reason the company is reclaiming cute as part of its innovations strategies. The maker of the original Beetle has a trifecta of its concepts on display, including the redux of its bus, and the electric-powered I.D. Buzz.
Redspace, the new electric car company founded by the government-backed China Hi-Tech Group and developed by former BMW design chief Chris Bangle is probably the closest thing to what the future of global cities will look like when small, electric cars catch on. Though the concept car made the trek to Los Angeles, it’s only destined for China.