2014 Los Angeles Car Show
If you haven’t heard from your inner gearhead or car freak in awhile, maybe it’s time to get in touch again. The LA Auto Show (running through Nov 30 at the LA Convention Center) is just the place to do it. You can peer into the electrified future of American transportation, sit in hybrid supercars and the latest gas-guzzling muscle cars, and have fun with some engaging and cool exhibits. The day we went, even school-age kids that could barely see over the steering wheel had fun revving engines and challenging their parents on a virtual track—in real Dodge muscle cars that move in response to the driver.
We wandered through the exhibits looking at everything from Mini Coopers to Maseratis and talked to a few car collectors and company reps. Unlike at a dealership, here there are no obnoxious salespeople tailing you, watching your every move or pressuring you to buy. The companies show off their new cars and want people to see them up close in a hassle-free environment. (Given the growth of online auto sales, maybe the dealership sales model is ready for the scrap heap?)
Dozens of new cars made their debut at this show, but the most interesting ones are the concept cars– the glamorous, exotic stars of the show that may or may not make it into production. The sleek, futuristic Infinity pictured above turned a lot of heads and elicited oohs and ahhs from show visitors. A functioning drivable car, it features rear “suicide doors” (hinged at the back rather than the front) and enough computer-driven technology to do just about everything but make you coffee.
Not only do new ideas trickle down from concept cars to production models, but features seen this year only on high-end luxury cars eventually wind up in popular less expensive models. Manufacturers are currently developing technology for cars that drive themselves and will look amazing. Future cars will be easily customizable with features and options turned on or off via smart phone or touch screen. Some options may even be purchased from an aftermarket app store. Car being stolen? No worry, it will text you (and the police) the car’s exact location while shutting down the thieves’ ability to move it. Even the new paint and coatings are amazing innovations: hue-shifting colors, layered metallics with multiple-color flakes and rock-hard transparent glazes on polished metal.
Electric cars have had a rocky road to success with American drivers. Tesla Motors captured the hearts of consumers and the attention of other car makers with the meteoric success of its high-tech, fully electric, Model S. Arguably the safest car on the road, it can get around 270 miles on a charge and may go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds— even faster than the company’s literature says. In a gesture unheard of in American corporations, Tesla last month released many of its patents for free use by other car makers. Not seen one yet? See its futuristic features at a Tesla mall store (they have no dealerships). There’s one in Brea, Newport Beach, and Mission Viejo.
Not surprisingly, some of the latest luxury cars at the LA Auto Show look like clones of the wildly popular Model S design. Audi in particular has adopted a similar sleek aerodynamic silhouette. Other car makers have gone for similar hood forms or window design. All the big car companies are now scrambling to create electric (or at least hybrid) cars that will sell as well as the Tesla Model S or the Toyota Prius. (Even Porsche now has a hybrid– it gets a measly 15 miles on a charge.) Guess that the big three auto makers want to be like Tesla, so overwhelmed with customers that they don’t need to do TV ads. For more of our images from the 2014 LA Auto Show, see our board on Pinterest here: