An auto show has two aspects—the eye candy designed to draw you in and then the hardware they really want to sell. When the two are the same, it’s a wonderful thing. At the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, the eye candy was all about green. Fuel economy, as in better fuel economy, was mentioned at virtually every press conference and highlighted in both featured show vehicles and the bread and butter cars and trucks that filled the displays.
The LA Show was green from the opening press conference highlighting the “most-hyped car”—G.M.’s own description of the Chevy Volt, which took home “Green Car of the Year” honors, through unveilings of a Jaguar plug-in supercar; Mercedes’ B-Class fuel cell electric vehicle; FIAT’s high-mileage 500 minicar; Ford’s 13 segment leading fuel economy leaders and green marketing award; Honda’s new EV; plug-in and fuel cell strategy; Dodge’s revamped lineup’s improved fuel economy; Lotus’s hybrid exotic; Toyota’s RAV4 EV revived in partnership with Tesla; Kia’s mini-EV Pop concept and Optima hybrid; Buick’s LaCrosse mild hybrid; Hyundai’s high-mileage redone gas-powered Elantra; Audi’s promise of more high-mileage diesels; and Mitsubishi’s U.S.-spec i-MiEV electric car, among others. Showing off their wares without a press conference were the Coda EV, Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid and some BMW diesels.
Based on the experience of the last few years’ spike in fuel prices and promised future volatility—along with government fuel economy and greenhouse gas reduction measures on the books in all of the major auto markets in the world—automakers have ramped up advanced technologies and are pushing their engineers to develop a veritable cornucopia of tools to improve fuel economy in all models. The goal is to keep customers happy with all of the traditional comfort and performance features, while bumping up all vehicles’ efficiency. Given the substantial investments being made, it follows logically that the automakers would tout the improvements that result from the investment. The LA Auto Show was a coming out party of sorts for much of this technology, but it is only the beginning of what will be a permanent and fundamental theme for all future major auto shows.
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