Spark ignites a new era
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.