A calm settled over the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 21. Much of the media had exited the building, and the vehicles and booth staff were far more accessible. A few more vehicles from the hundreds on display:
2015 Audi A3 Sedan
2015 Audi A3 Convertible
The oft-rumoured, but yet to be produced e-Tron, this time in A3 form.
The revised 2014 Hyundai Elantra
2015 Chevrolet Colorado, due Fall 2014
2015 Cadillac Escalade, debuting spring 2014
2015 Porsche Macan, due Spring 2015
2014 Kia Soul, arriving imminently.
Fiat 500 1957 edition
Nissan GT-R Nismo edition
Nissan Sentra Nismo concept
Infiniti Q30 crossover, due 2015
And, just because, the Bentley Flying Spur
Bentley Flying Spur
Bentley Flying Spur
The press conferences were entertaining. Audi is a brand on the move. Their sales are increasing every month, for the past 35 consecutive months. They’re targeting sales of 200,000 units by 2018, and the A3 will help them get there. They can leverage technology and cost savings from the Volkswagen group, as does Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini and the other marques under the Wolfsburg umbrella. Audi took a shot at Infiniti for re-booting their brand. BMW took a shot at the early reviews of the Mercedes-Benz CLA for its quality not being at a premium level. Porsche acknowledged the hue and cry by existing owners over the introduction of the Cayenne and the Panamera, as not being true “Porsches”. It’s a reality that the 911 will never sell in the volumes that Porsche needs to be viable, and the Cayenne is its most successful model. That position will be supplanted by the Macan.
Despite demonstrating fuel cell vehicles by many manufacturers over the years, Hyundai is introducing a hydrogen-powered Tucson in the spring of 2014. It’s already on sale in the UK. It holds all the promise of an electric vehicle, but refilling the powerplant will only take about 10 minutes and the only emission is water. One can argue that it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than you’ll get out at the drive wheels, but we’ll leave the arguments about the energy equation of hydrogen for another day.
All-in-all, the show demonstrated optimism, and delivered an upbeat message. The manufacturers think that the future is bright, and if car sales are any indication, so does the consumer. I think the battle in the days ahead will not be so much the vehicles themselves, but the entire ownership experience; from the first contact with the dealership to how the customer interacts with the car. The manufacturers that can convince their dealerships that the entire purchase life cycle must be carefully managed will be the ones that survive.