The regular fervor of the LA Auto Show was lost this year due to the impending doom of what will forever be known as the “Big 3 Bailout“. Auto execs of Ford, GM and Chrysler left their stations unmanned while they flew private jets to Washington to grovel at the feet of the Senate Congressional Committee for a cool $25 billion. The result was an eerily quiet showroom with only a few makers causing a raucous (BMW, Audi, Nissan and VW primarily), while the US makers remained reticent. In fact, Chrysler’s entire showroom was lights out, with nary a single rep present to answer questions. And this was on press day, and not a soul to answer questions. The vibe was a bit unsettling.
Another notable was that although previous years have seen an ever-increasing amount of green vehicles at the major shows, this year saw an absolute explosion as they took center stage. Unsurprisingly really, as peak oil looms over the horizon and every day car companies turn to hybrids, turbo diesels and fuel-cells to power their people movers. Most of the big announcements included regular cars now available in more fuel-efficient formats, including BMW and their suckling MINI brand both introducing alternative energy cars with the Hybrid 7 Series and Mini-E, respectively. Volkswagen re-introduced their TDI engines to the US in much of their line, much to the hurray of diesel enthusiasts (altho most of these have been available in Europe forever).
Despite the hanging anxiety, there were still a couple good concepts and launches, such as the Honda FC Sport seen above. And plenty of convertibles making their bow this year too, including Bentley Azure T, Lamborghini Gallardo, Infiniti G37 and the Ferrari Spyder.
See plenty more pics after the Jump!
The Honda CR-Z (Compact Renaissance Zero), although only a concept, promises to move away from the standard awkwardness of most hybrid vehicles.
Finally, the New Ferrari we posted about is here in the metal! Seen topless, the all-new Ferrari California features an electric folding hardtop and is powered by a front-mounted 4.3-liter V8 engine (Ferrari’s first front-mounted V8 engine ever). With a pricetag somewhere close to $200K, expect to see these go quickly at the dealerships. Ferrari claims to have 60% of them sold already, and with a sticker price between the 430 and the Spyder it seems to be an obvious choice for fans of the rearing horse.
Bentley Azure T looks good, but it’s very similar to the regular Azure. With it’s massive Twin-Turbo 6.75 liter V-12, it’s one of the most powerful and sturdy convertibles you can’t buy. That is unless you’ve got an extra $350K lying around. Nonetheless, she is a beauty.
Buick Riviera Concept. Without any tech/specs on this baby it’s hard to tell how it will turn out. The single gull-wing door on this coupe makes for an impressive new concept from the usually boring guys at Buick.
Dodge eV is essentially a Big-3 Tesla. With a Lotus frame and an electric motor capable of 13 second quarter-mile time, sub 5-second 0-60 times, and a 250 mile range, I can’t really tell the difference. They’ll probably sell it for less. Tesla better get more cars on the road before Dodge gets into production.
The great Nissan 370Z: With some new headlights, a slightly larger powerplant, shorter wheelbase, and a completely redesigned and superior interior, Nissan seems to have improved upon their ever popular “Z”. Best of all, they did so while preserving the design of Z’s of the past. (The silhouette even hearkens back more clearly to the original 240Z of the early ’70s.)
Finally, Lambo did its usual MO of releasing the drop-top version of a previously-released car in LA cos, you know, us Cali Kids love to swing around topless. This year it was the Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder, which comes with a 560-hp V10 and all-wheel drive. Even better, the car is finally available in matte paint. Nice one.
Some press photos. These Gallardos always seem to look nice with thier roofs chopped, quite an accomplishment when it comes to convertibles. Usually, they just look like someone took a hatchet to their C-Pillars…