2010 L.A. Auto Show

By Jeffrey the Barak

As usual, the L.A. Auto Show welcomed the-vu to press days, where we took our usual meandering course through the convention center, staying out of the way of the TV and magazine writers, and looking in all the wrong places, on purpose. Not for the first time, the winners for aestethics were the two German cousins, Volkswagen and Audi. As usual they had the perfect balance of style, luxury, common-sense and quality that just stood out above the crowd. As usual the Rolls Royces looked a bit silly and the American cars were designed by and for strange aliens from another planet.

The automotive press will tell you all about the boring stuff, and I will pick out a tiny sampling of other stuff, illustrated with shot-from-the-hip snaps. Click on any picture to see the big-ass version.

As usual, the sensible supercar award went to Audi. They also had a topless version of the classic A8, but I think it is twice as nice with a proper roof. Here it is with that wacky doctor Michael at the wheel and the official model off to one side.

What would the Mercedes-Benz area be without a Mercedes Van giving away cupcakes? Well much the same, but despite being wheat intolerant, it was nice to see and sniff these sweet little creations.

Something about the dashboard of the BMW Mini makes it the coolest lump of design at the show. There was a giant oversized Mini making it’s debut today, but this is the original dash, seen here from behind the convertible.

The admirable Nissan Corporation showed it’s squeaky clean Leaf , but something about it’s visual design may keep some people away.

Not far away, Honda showed an all-electric version of the popular Fit, which may be more in-line with current (no pun intended) tastes.

We stopped for espresso, which almost every exhibitor had on offer today, at the splendidly designed Fiat display. Nothing new about Fiat in Europe, but America is seing it again for the first time in many years.

This year we again became acquainted with the Mitsubishi MIEV, an electric car that just never seems to fully arrive on the streets of America. Where are they all?

Down in the basement, electric cars were scattered around. Some have been covered here in years past, and some were new. Some still looked like kit cars, and others looked like quality, full-production, buy me now, clean machines. Wheego (from Atlanta, GA) have Smart cars, with their engines replaced by electric motors. These zero-emission full-speed all-electric LiFe models look ready for prime time. But I wonder what they did with all those new engines and transmissions?

It used to be that the-vu was one of the few publications that took any notice of the electric cars at the auto-show, but now all the press does. It’s only a matter of time before our streets have plenty of them, and plenty of places to plug them in for a recharge. The utility companies and the car-makers are getting ready to change things, and here in L.A. we should be seeing chargers appearing all over the place., and I don’t mean those silly Dodge Chargers.

This picture (below left) taken at the Mitsubishi display shows the public version beside the home version. Designs will vary, but the plug is standardized across all brands and can be seen here at the Nissan Leaf display.

Drive safe, and watch out for the nostrils.

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