LA Auto Show Day one of “Press Days”

Mazda 2 under its silk wrap waiting its unveiling to the press.
Mazda 2 under its silk wrap

Attending the LA Auto Show on a press pass is treat in itself. The show is edited down to the most important cars being showcased during the press days. With its designation by the “Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automoblies” we are treated to more world and US debuts than ever before. To be specific: 7 World debuts, 31 North American debuts and 10 concepts. The amount of foreign press present packing in the debuts is outright amazing.

The whole day is a hurry up and wait type event.  Between unveiling’s and premiers you either rush
from place to place hoping to get a good seat then wait for the event to start. Or…you can go to the opposite end of the halls and check out the manufacturers who aren’t in the process of an event and enjoy unfettered access to the cars plus plenty of folks to answer your most boring questions. I usually take the latter route as it gives me mostly wide open “shots” of the cars. The exception to the rule today was the Chevy Volt…gawd would they just put it on sale already as this is the 3rd show where they were the show stealers.

Today about half the cars got their big premiers. Of particular interest was the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta which are selling really well in the EU. Both are fitting into the sub-compact slot currently occupied by the Nissan Versa, Chevy Aveo and Honda Fit. Mazda’s “2” is going after the sport lovin’ fast drivin’ crowd and it appears to look and have the power-train behind it to pull off the job. Ford’s Fiesta is going after the “premium” subcompact niche and may do quite well if in production they are as solid as the pre-production models we got to look at up close and personal. (Loved the 5 door hatch as it was the least changed from the European spec model I drove a couple of months ago, the sedan, not lovin’ the different grill). Regardless I see them both doing well here in LA.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xG_vkHwzEA[/youtube]

Aside from cars on turntables which has been the standard for ages this years auto show has
more than its cars hung from a wall on their sides. Different. There were plenty of cut-aways too, but by far the new Lexus LFA had the coolest one. Its monocoque structure surrounded by a silohuette of the car done with a grid form. Very cool.

Lexus LFA Supercar cut-away.
Lexus LFA Supercar cut-away.

Totally MIA was the Ferrari, Maserati and Lambo cars. I’ll try to find out why those perpetual attention getters were missing. Can’t imagine them being totally gone from the show.

This years show really is different than in years past in terms of which line is where. The domestics lead the pack in divorces and it showed. Fords divorcing of Jag, Land Rover and Mazda is apparent as they are in entirely different Halls instead of married in one happy family as in years past. GM has a HUGE space and is largely empty or as in the case of Buick filled with 3-5 models of the same car. Lame. Fiat’s impact on the Chrysler line ups is obvious with the split off of RAM as its own brand separate from Dodge. (Snark alert…Fiat will have its hands full with that division and line up as all the cars are a couple of years old or older and not a fresh concept in sight).

From a field of 50 Alternative and hybrid cars 5 currently are in the running as finalists for “Green Car of the Year”. The winner will be announced on Thursday 12/3. From this group the Audi A3TDI and VW Golf TDI are there representing the “sporty” cars with its uber clean Turbo diesel, the same power-plant that was in last years winning VW Jetta. Hybrids are represented by the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Mercury Milan.

Of the concept cars unveiled today VW’s “Up!lite” got my attention. It is an ultralight yet strong unibody hybrid diesel that clocks in at 70mpg on the highway…no city figures given. Because of its tiny diesel and hybrid power-train system the car will (would) have the best CO2 figures of a production car ever at about approx 105g/mile. Certainly great numbers all the way around in a reasonable size, especially in the city where our parking spaces are rare and tight.

VW "Up!Lite" concept - ultraclean and lean diesel hybrid.
VW "Up!Lite" concept - ultraclean and lean diesel hybrid.

Tickets and discount tickets can be purchased here for the LA Auto Show public days starting on December 4, 2009.
Details: LA Convention Center, LA Auto Show is open to the public Dec. 4-13. Hours are:
Weekdays: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sundays: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
All pics by me and get bigger with a click. More can be found in my flickr set 2009 LA Auto Show.