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L.A. Auto Show rolls into town

Less show, more go

Posted: December 3, 2009 4:20 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2009 6:00 a.m.

The Audi e-tron concept vehicle awaits its "reveal" during press days at the L.A. Auto Show. The e-tron is a high-performance sports car with a purely electric drive system.

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Last year, when the economy drove off the cliff and took the American auto industry with it, the Los Angeles Auto Show carried on bravely in spite of the economic climate.

I wondered what 2009 would bring when the annual L.A. Auto Show drove into Los Angeles.

Everything automotive still revs up the Los Angeles Convention Center as artistry in chrome and glass and steel (and a lot more plastic) is now on display through Dec. 13. But in the "New World Automobile Order" perhaps less is more.

There is no question this is a more subdued L.A. Auto Show. There is little "glam" and almost no "glitz." But there are plenty of real cars for real people to ogle and examine.

This year the L.A. Auto Show is missing a few players - for example there were no Hummers suspended from the Convention Center ceiling as had become "de rigueur " in past years - and Nissan, Infiniti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati were also noshows.

The empty space where the Ferrari pavilion once stood is mute testimony of how the world has changed.

However, this year's show does include more than 30 world and North American debut vehicles as well as a dozen concept cars.
Nostalgia reigned as more models than ever were brought in to pose with a variety of vehicles, just like Auto Shows of the past, and gull-wing doors seemed to lurk in every corner of the exhibit halls.

For the average consumer this year's L.A. Auto Show is a showcase of what's possible. The emphasis remains on fuel economy and "green" and hybrid vehicles.

Earning the most early "buzz" at the show is the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt extended range electric car.

During its debut GM officials promised that California would be among the first states to receive production model Volts when they are first offered to the public in the fall of 2010.

The Volt, which should appeal to commuters, is expected to cost around $40,000. The car can run 40 miles on electricity, then can be charged via a conventional outlet. If you want to travel farther its range can be extended by use of an engine that will offer up to 300 miles without refueling.

The Chevrolet Cruze also garnered much interest. The Cruze will replace the Chevrolet Cobalt and is expected to get 40 mpg.

For those who love the exotics there is still plenty to see, including several $224,000 list price Spyker C8 Ailerons.

The Rolls Royce Ghost makes its North American debut at the L.A. Auto Show, too.

Once a novelty, hybrids and alternative fuel cars take up a lot of floor space at the L.A. Auto Show. More than 50 "green" vehicles from nearly every manufacturer are on display in L.A.

New this year for the kids is the all-new Kids Fun Zone. The attraction, open both weekends of the show (Dec. 5-6 and 12-13), features a variety of interactive family-fun, primarily for kids ages 12 and under.

The Kids Fun Zone will feature bounce houses, a toy Jeep driving course at Camp Jeep Jr., and Bubble Rock productions will be leading a variety of fun activities including face-painting, bubble making, arts and crafts, hula-hoops and more. Older kids will enjoy the opportunity to test their racing skills in driving simulators from Xbox 360, featuring the latest version of "Forza Motorsport 3," while parents receive free information about child health and wellness.

Kentia Hall, home to the Kids Fun Zone, will also house all the aftermarket vendors. Parking: $12 in Convention Center garages or $30 at the valet.

Children age 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Seniors (62 and older) are $8 (cash) on weekdays only.
Information: www.LAAutoShow.com or call (213) 741-1151, ext. 3. Follow the LA Auto Show on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LAAutoShow.

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