Spark ig­nites a new era

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - Paul Gover Na­tional edi­tor

AVISIT to the Los An­ge­les auto show is a great way to close out 2010. It is up­beat and im­pres­sive, with a huge range of pre­view cars and new­com­ers.

There is ev­ery­thing from a new price-fighter at Hyundai to a wide range of plug-in elec­tric cars, a cou­ple of se­ri­ous ex­otics and even Sharon Stone as the su­per­star guest at Lo­tus.

It’s a con­trast to 2008, when open­ing day in LA co­in­cided with the first se­ri­ous bank­ruptcy moves in­volv­ing the Big Three in Washington.

On that day, Chrysler could not even af­ford to turn on the lights at its stand.

There was doom and gloom and few peo­ple could see any sort of fu­ture for the Amer­i­can car­mak­ers, even if Ford al­ready had done a smart re­struc­ture and was free of debt. Gen­eral Mo­tors and Chrysler were ex­pected to col­lapse.

This time, the open­ing in LA co­in­cided with a suc­cess­ful share float for New GM, and Chrysler is pumped by new prod­ucts and a part­ner­ship with Fiat that prom­ises the sort of cars and trucks that peo­ple want in the US.

Sales are up across the board from the dis­as­trous rout last year, which costGMits No.1 slot to Toy­ota and made China the world’s biggest new-car show­room.

Even the cars from Detroit have changed. GM still has the sexy new Chevro­let Ca­maro con­vert­ible on its stand in LA.

But the real fea­ture is the Volt, the first work­able range-ex­ten­der hy­brid.

Some peo­ple are say­ing LA in 2010 is the start of the se­ri­ous elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the car.

Nis­san and Mit­subishi are push­ing their plug­ins, there is a car called the Coda that mar­ries Cal­i­for­nia and China for bat­tery power, and the num­ber of hy­brids— from Porsche and Benz at the top end to a fu­ture Hyundai at the bot­tom— is se­ri­ous and im­pres­sive.

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