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Old 12-05-2006, 08:28 PM   #1
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Review: 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show

2007 L.A. Auto Show: GasSavers.org Style

As I was driving around Los Angeles, I realized that members of this site are from all over the U.S. and from different parts of the world. For those not familiar, California is generally ahead of the game when it comes to emissions requirements compared with most other States.

With that in mind, the Toyota Prius is the official vehicle of LA. You?re guaranteed to see one every 45 seconds, just driving around ? I?m not kidding. That doesn?t mean everyone is striving for fuel or emissions efficiency, though. Having one allows you to be exempt from having passengers other than yourself while driving in the exclusive HOV lane, as permitted (and advertised) by the little gold stickers on the rear bumper. Maybe some feel obligated own one or want people to think better of them ? I know they?re out there. At any rate, even if they drive them like maniacs (which most were), they?re still saving fuel.

Spending some time in Beverly Hills proved a flip-side to vehicle analysis. Honestly, in a little over a day, I saw probably $1 Billion-worth of vehicles running about. There were Maybachs, all of Mercedes? latest AMG versions, Supercars (like Ford GTs, Lambos, Ferraris), Porsches of all shapes and sizes including the GT3 and rare Carrera GT:



Rolls-Royces, Jags, Bentleys ? guzzlers of all types. But an informal statistical analysis showed the most popular to be the newer Merc CLS 500 4-door Coupe. Those were all around. But outside of the ?Gimme-Gimme? districts, there was still the venerable Prius. So hybrids are hot here (I also saw every hybrid currently massed produced, while driving the streets: Lexus GS450h, Vue Hybrid, etc.)

So, we arrived at the show as it opened Saturday morning at 9 (great call ? much less crowded). I went in with expectations of seeing the latest plug-in hybrids, clean Diesels, and EVs. As it turns out, it was just a really nice car show with some ?Green? thrown-in. Don?t get me wrong, I had a great time there as a car buff, but from a GS point of view, I left feeling a bit let-down. On a quick note, it turns out that this year celebrated the 100th year of the show (more on that later).

Basically, everyone is desperately trying to get into the Hybrid game these days. Here?s a break-down, by Make, of ?what?s coming up? (if it?s not mentioned, it didn?t have one. As you will see, ?Hybrid? is the buzz word).

BMW: The Bavarians are still trying to get Hydrogen in the limelight, with their ?Hydrogen 7? 7-series.


BMW Hydrogen 7

GM: E-85 is still advertised, but not as heavily. I recall having strolled past a GMC Yukon with a ?2-mode? Hybrid system that the spokesmodel bragged ?increased the gas mileage by 25%!? Wow 25%. My wife said, ?so that like 3-4 mpg on this one here that averages 14 mpg, right?? I had no comment, but she knew exactly what was on my mind by the scowl and nod.

Saturn seems to be leading GM with a Hybrid version of the Aura Sedan and Vue. Chevy Trucks also have similar ?Mild Hybrid? tech to boost FE a bit.


Saturn Aura Hybrid

Nissan/Infiniti: The Altima Hybrid is a go. Also, many automatics have been replaced by CVTs, which gets you a couple more MPGs here and there (examples: Versa, Maxima).


Nissan Altima Hybrid

Honda/Acura: ?Environmentology? is alive and well, but gone is the first Hyrbid (Insight) so the normal-looking Civic Hybrid fits right into the fold. The Accord V-6 hybrid is still there, but not in a 4-banger. Still can?t figure that one out. Maybe Toyota will get the competition started among the top 2 sellers.

The ?FCX? Hydrogen concept in a beautiful candy-apple red is rumored to see showroom floors in 2010 (a ?soft-deadline? if I ever heard one) ? but still looks almost ready to go (now, we just need find a way to get the fuel, hmmm?.

Honda FCX: Front

FCX: Front 3/4

FCX: Rear


Anyways, in CA, the 2.2L Euro-Diesel should meet the stringent requirements after some emissions equipment tweaking, as they mentioned the powerplant would be coming over in ?09. The biggest let-down is that it may be going in the CR-V only, according (pun intended) to a floor lackie. Let?s hope that?s not the case and that we have a few vehicles from which we can choose this optional engine to power. It would drop right into the TSX since the European Honda Accord has the Diesel now (it would be just in time for a major TSX re-design year). Basically, Honda has the lowest emissions on the floor right now.


Honda Civic NGV with PHILL System

But the clear winner is Toyota. My ?Best of Show? is the Camry Hybrid.



It?s a great equation: take the best selling car in the U.S., drop-in a world-renowned full-hybrid system, and see what happens.



I predict that this will sell like hotcakes, make more people comfortable with the idea of owning and driving a hybrid, and really kick the ball rollin?. If the Prius is too funky or small, the family-minded Camry Hybrid fits the bill with the exact same looks as the regular model, but with a ?Hybrid Synergy Drive? badge on the rear,



and ?Hybrid? badge on the front quarter panels. No ?Area 51? stuff here ? just like the Civic and Accord Hybrids. Even the 4-cylinder Camry is impressive; moreover, the new joint-venture with Isuzu should get us some Diesels soon. These folks think 10-years ahead and nail it every time. The Yaris is a hit and doesn?t compromise much, if anything. As Renault used to falsely advertise back in the ?Le Car? days, the truth stands that Toyota is the ?One to Watch?.


Yaris

I have to give props to Mistubishi for a vehicle near-and-dear to my heart. They displayed Vishnu Tuning?s latest vehicle: an E-85 version of the near 300-hp, AWD Lancer Evolution. Since they first came here in early ?04, Shiv Pathak of Vishnu was constantly on the EVO v-boards brainstorming and talking with owners or those on the long wait list, and developed different aftermarket ?Stage? packages for purchase depending on your racing desire. Now he has a respectable company that churns-out award winning versions of the hot compact and an ethanol version that has to help with that average of 18 mpg. If you have to race, why not race green?


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR - Ethanol, by Vishnu Tuning

Which brings me to Audi. The R10 has been tearing-up tracks world-wide from the 12-hours of Sebring to the 24-hour Le Mans race. For those not familiar, the R10 is an amazing twin-turbo Diesel racecar that has won many races and accolades for it?s durability, endurance, and efficiency (if you get better MPG, you don?t have to pit to fuel-up). I can imagine that tech trickling-down into efficient Audis on the showroom floor.

Kia: I still have to give the Spectra an ?A? for FE effort. A facelift this year freshens the looks both inside and out, and includes a sporty SX Sedan version with the same efficient engine. I wish I had a decent picture of it, but it actually looks good inside and out -- expect it to debut in 1/07.


2007 Kia Spectra EX; SX Interior (photos courtesy autobytel.com

Ford: Wow That's the best they can do???


Ford Focus with 50-State Emissions

DCX: What the heck is going on here??? On one side, you have the Imperial concept (Bugsy Seagle must be back in the market for a ride) and Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge?s multitude of gas hogs like the Challenger concept (which has been promised to make it to market), 300, Grand Cherokee, Charger, Magnum, etc. etc. etc. ?That thing got a HEMI?? Unfortunately, yes. They beat their chests in pride that yes; every vehicle I just mentioned can be had with a big V-8 in some sort of specialized edition. The GasSaving Neon, has been replaced with the Caliber but is terrible on gas (Europe gets a Caliber Diesel, but here ? nope). That?s the entry-level Dodge! When I asked the floor lackie when the Bluetec was coming over, meaning the ?Clean Diesel? engine technology (I pointed to the Grand Cherokee ?Bluetec? edition since it was there and said ?Blutec? on it) and he bragged about a $13,000 paint-job, this, that and the other. I had to interrupt and say, ?no, the engine? stupid. ?Duh? was all I got on that one. Sheesh.


Jeep Grand Cherokee BLUETEC Diesel

Mercedes has this great ?Bluetec? engine that injects a blue urea-like substance into an emissions/catalyst device to reduce oxides of nitrogen to meet the new EPA regs. This technology is currently being sold in 45 states (not CA or some New England states with cleaner-than-EPA regs.) in the high-dollar E320D. When the costly urea runs dry at about 80K miles, a fail-safe mechanism will prevent engine operation. Is this the way to go about it??? It increases FE, reduces emissions, but gives up? I just don?t know.

What else can I tell you. No Diesel-Electric Hybrids, a GEM NEV that we?ve all known about for years (a street-legal golf cart), no plug-in hybrids, few standard gassers that come close to 40 mpg highway, and some half-hearted attempts at real hybrids. Is it better than last year? Definitely ? but we apparently have a long way to go in the mainstream. That?s where we come in.

I always have to end a story like this with the ?write Congress? speech, or the mention it to your neighbors/friends speech. Don?t worry, I won?t; if you promise to just keep getting the word out and make it known that this is important business. For whatever your motivations are, which are many here at GasSavers, just keep it on your mind, and in turn the minds of others.

But wait there?s more! You also get a brief history of the show?

So, what was available in 1907? According to the Los Angeles Auto Show 100-year Anniversary Program Book, ?46 Manufacturers were represented?. It went on to say that 2 electric cars were available along with the gassers, ?with 2-, 3-, 4-, and 6-cylinder engines ranging in horsepower from 12 to 60 horsepower?. The show was such a success that they had to tack-on an extra day.

So, they had electric cars 100-years ago. Interesting, I?d say. Over the years, technology and better roads made the shows and their stars faster and more powerful, and in some cases, more efficient. So here we are today. Tomorrow is up to you.

Rick Harrell
GasSavers.Org

(RH77)
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:45 PM   #2
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Neato writeup, Rick. Thanks.

No Tesla roadster in LA?
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:00 PM   #3
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No Signal from Tesla

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Originally Posted by MetroMPG
Neato writeup, Rick. Thanks.

No Tesla roadster in LA?
Thanks. No, not at the "Mainstream" show -- which was a disappointment -- only Top-Dollar oddities like Spyker, Bugatti, Maybach, and Buick.

I guess there's an "Alternative Vehicle" show which has these kind of cars.

There wasn't even a SMART! Ugh.

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Old 12-05-2006, 10:47 PM   #4
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rh77 -

Quote:
Originally Posted by rh77
Thanks. No, not at the "Mainstream" show -- which was a disappointment -- only Top-Dollar oddities like Spyker, Bugatti, Maybach, and Buick.

I guess there's an "Alternative Vehicle" show which has these kind of cars.

There wasn't even a SMART! Ugh.

RH77
There were three Smart's in the basement section, where all the aftermarket stuff is. But yes, marginalized as usual. That's where the 1600 MPG racer and the Zap electric cars were.

From an aesthetic design POV, I love the "Euro" Kia-Rio. I just wish it had a Honda drivetrain.

Thanks for the great review! I never noticed the "Etho-Evo".

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Old 12-06-2006, 10:17 AM   #5
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Crap

Well crap -- I thought we covered the whole thing -- totally missed out on the basement. I even bought the program with maps and said it "all the cars at the show" -- I checked and, nope. I guess it goes to show how much they cared about those vehicles .

I suppose the next biggie is Detroit, but I'm not sure how "Green" that one will be (but I hear it's the biggest and best). The LA Show has a lot of debuts.

RH77

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rh77 -



There were three Smart's in the basement section, where all the aftermarket stuff is. But yes, marginalized as usual. That's where the 1600 MPG racer and the Zap electric cars were.

From an aesthetic design POV, I love the "Euro" Kia-Rio. I just wish it had a Honda drivetrain.

Thanks for the great review! I never noticed the "Etho-Evo".

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Old 12-14-2006, 02:07 AM   #6
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When I went last time there were lambos and all kinds of cars in the basement. Most cars were taped off so nobody would touch them.
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