AutoMatters+: 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

The auto industry is back in full force and nowhere was it more evident than at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. As usual, the show was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Gradually, ever since LA stopped trying to compete with Detroit for the same autos at about the same time of year, the LA show has been growing in stature and new vehicle introductions. This year’s LA Auto Show featured 33 world debuts, 32 North American debuts and three auto show debuts.

Especially noteworthy among the world debuts were the Cadillac ATS-V, Chrysler 300, Ford Explorer, Jaguar F-Type all-wheel-drive and manual transmission models, Lexus LF-C2 Concept, Mercedes-Maybach S600, Porsche 911 Carerra GTS and Cayenne GTS, and “Rocket” — arguably the most beautiful Mustang ever, by Henrik Fisker and Galpin Auto Sports.

North American debut standouts included the Audi TTS, Fiat 500X, Infiniti Q80 Inspiration, Mercedes AMG GT S, MINI Hardtop 4-door, Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV, Nissan Blade Glider Concept and the Volkswagen GTI Roadster - Vision Gran Turismo concept.

Not to be missed was having a road race in the Dodge Challenger and Charger simulators. Controlled by computer, large pistons in the trunk and under the hood activated the cars’ shocks, which provided a thrilling, realistic simulation of high-speed turning, braking and accelerating.

Press Days were absolutely mobbed. Looking out from atop the photo stands, the sight was a sea of people.

The format for Press Days left little time to spend looking at other than the vehicles that were being revealed for the first time. Mere minutes separated each press conference. When one ended, we needed to hustle over to the next one, to try to get a seat or a vantage point from which to take photos of the specially staged reveals.

At two of these reveals (for Mazda and Porsche), I couldn’t even see the cars. In desperation, I attached a DSLR camera to a sturdy monopod, held it one-handed high above my head (and the crowds), and triggering it with an electronic remote shutter release, I shot completely blind in several slightly different directions, hoping that one shot would include a new car as it was being revealed. Thankfully, this system worked. I also used it to take several high-elevation beauty shots of the cars on the show floor.

It went on this way for most of the Wednesday and Thursday Press Days. As planned, I returned home to San Diego after the second day, but ended up going back to LA on Friday so that I could spend some more time with additional vehicles. For the public days, the vehicles are somewhat rearranged, using space on the show floor that had been used for the press gatherings and the stages.

BMW’s i3 won several awards: Green Car Journal’s 2015 Green Car of the Year and Autoblog’s “Technology of the Year Award.”

Something extra-special that the LA show has become renowned for is the “Design LA Design Challenge.” This region has long been a center for automobile design studios. Design LA is an international competition where teams vie to be recognized for the best design concepts.

This year’s participants included the Art Center College of Design (Pasadena), Calty Design Research, Honda Advanced Design Tokyo, Infiniti Design San Diego, Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center (California), Nissan Design America, the Royal College of Art and Subaru Design.

This marked the first auto show where visitors could get close to the new Mazda MX-5 (formerly known as the Miata). Outside, there were numerous opportunities to test-drive new automobiles.

Downstairs at Kentia Hall, visitors found many vendor booths, displays and contests. It was here that I finally learned about the Metro ExpressLanes that I’ve been seeing on certain LA freeways. These are a combination of carpool and toll lanes. To use them, you must have a FasTrak transponder. I picked mine up at the auto show. You can also apply by visiting www.metroexpresslanes.net.

On display at the ZElectric exhibit (www.zelectricmotors.com) were two plug-in electric Volkswagen Beetle conversions.

Elsewhere in Kentia Hall, people could test-ride the “2014 outdoor toy of the year” — a very cool, very small, battery-powered, go-kartlike contraption by Razor. It’s called a “Crazy Cart” (www.Razor.com/crazycart). It goes straight ahead until you pull a lever, which lifts the back wheels off of the ground and causes the vehicle to drift sideways.

Visit www.laautoshow.com. As always, please write to AutoMatters@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions. Until next time...

Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters+ #360r1

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