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2010 LA Auto Show – Green is Still the Theme

It may come as little surprise that many manufacturers are continuing to wave the green flag here at the 2010 LA Auto Show. For the American manufacturers going green seems to mean direct injection and turbo-charging smaller displacement gasoline engines. For the German manufacturers who had hoped to sway Americans into diesels some have reluctantly decided that they should offer hybrids. While the Japanese manufacturers who have been beating the hybrid drum for so long seem to be moving on to ‘pure electrics’. With a few small EV companies really trying hard to make a name for themselves as the electric vehicle market tries to launch yet again (this time at $3.00/gallon gas).
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It is interesting to see who is getting credit for what, who isn’t getting credit – and why. For some manufactures getting credit may be as simple as branding a technology that has been around for years and used by many manufacturers (e.g. Ford’s ‘EcoBoost’). Other manufacturers may not receive credit for great products simply because most Americans aren’t familiar with the newer technology or don’t really understand the benefits (e.g. VW TDI)
So let’s take a walk around the LA Auto Show…

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Volkswagen debuted their new and improved 2012 Eos – which was really just a refreshening of the old Eos. VW Group of America President Jonathan Browning introduced Heidi Klum who came on stage and said that she knew ‘a lot about cars’ but went on to say nothing insightful about product or design. Heidi simply told us how she really likes the new Eos and how it would fit into her lifestyle here in Los Angeles. “That’s why we live here… to drive convertible cars, no?”
Um… sure! Okay… moving right along…
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On over to the Jaguar Land Rover press conference… where Jaguar was showing off their C-X75 supercar concept and Land Rover took the wraps off of the 5-door Evoque. The Jaguar C-X75 concept was little more than an engineering showcase and study in design… something for Jaguar to talk about. Maybe we will see some of the design language or ‘range-extending gas microturbines’ adapted for use in future Jaguars? I for one am not willing to bet on the ‘range-extending gas microturbines’ showing up in Jaguars any time soon.
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The Land Rover ‘Range Rover Evoque’ 5-door debuted along side the 3-door (the 3-dr. debuted at the Paris show earlier this year). We’ve got to give Land Rover some credit for staying so close to the LRX concept. The Evoque is really a highly styled ‘Range Rover’ and love it or hate it – it makes a big statement for such a little Range Rover (that’s right… it’s a Range Rover Evoque not a Land Rover Evoque. I have to get used to that). Hopefully Americans will appreciate this smaller, more fuel efficient offering much more than the Freelander – which didn’t quite measure up here in the States. We should expect a bevy of typical Land Rover features to be offered in the Evoque, all-wheel-drive, and a 4-cylinder (that we hope is either turbro-charged or supercharged). The Evoque should help Land Rover with CAFE.
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Audi was flaunting a luxurious A7 5-door coupe (think Mercedes Benz CLS or Porsche Panamara on a diet). Audi is new to this segment but offers all the infotainment, style and safety that is to be expected in this class. Audi was also displaying a vehicle you can’t help but appreciate… a limited edition Audi R8 GT, which in my opinion was the best looking vehicle at the auto show.
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Subaru had a press conference touting their success, market share and market growth over the last three years – along with their charity ($250 per new vehicle sold or leased during the share the love event). They identified a new mantra “Confidence in Motion” and then revealed an Impreza design concept car that showed off their future design direction. As far as concepts go it didn’t seem like a far cry from the current Impreza. The concept has a 2.0L boxer engine and CVT transmission. Not sure I like the idea of a CVT in an Impreza but I’d probably opt for the manual anyway…
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Nissan showed off their latest creation which may leap frog the Toyota Prius both in terms of technology and green press. Meet the Leaf. Nissan claims to be able to produce 500K Leafs by 2013, even if consumer demand doesn’t actually meet capacity. For some reason I’m pretty sure they won’t be capacity constrained… For those who would enjoy plugging-in for hours at a time and would not suffer from range anxiety Nissan believes this is the car for you. Base pricing starts at $33,720 but there are many rebates and/or tax incentives – one of them being a federal tax rebate. How Americans feel about the $7500 federal tax rebate offered to Leaf owners (for purchasing the Leaf) is yet to be determined. Our tax dollars hard at work? Should EVs be left to stand on their own?
The Nissan Leaf is a vehicle that might work well as a ‘commuter’ vehicle, a secondary vehicle or perhaps a fleet vehicle where the routes are identified in advance. If you’re interested in an all-electric vehicle from a major manufacturer this Nissan Leaf (i.e. Nissan Versa EV) is probably on your consideration list.
Sorry exotic car fans… No Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati at this years show.

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