If you can only go to one auto show in a year (which should be called an "auto show year" since it starts the prior fall) the L.A. Auto Show should probably be it.
First benefit is that — nothing against Detroit — it's not in Detroit. And it's not in Detroit in January. That latter point is really important because right now the East Coast is cold top to bottom, let to right. Who wouldn't want to be in SoCal right now? Especially since its hotels aren't booked six months in advance of the show, as happens to be the case in Detroit.
But the L.A. show is also where the cool tech goes; L.A.’s auto extravaganza rolls with electric, hybrid, and fuel-cell innovation show-and-tell (because of California's fuel and emissions policies), and the show is also a forum for autonomous cars, and connected technology. So it's a must see, especially when paired with the Connected Car Expo.
AutoTrader.com has used the latter as a conversation point for a most-popular list of technology innovations. The top tech innovations among consumers, it says, are adaptive cruise control; forward collision mitigation; touchscreen infotainment; parking assist; in car connectivity; and auto stop/start.
The firm also says consumers aren't ready for self-driving cars, or 65% say they aren't because they see it as dangerous. But 61% say they might consider auto braking and collision avoidance, per the firm.
As for the main show, automakers are showing off performance, alternative powertrain, and in the case of Ford, a vehicle you’d expect to see unveiled in Detroit, if anywhere: the 2016 Explorer. The nameplate, which is now 25 years old, just posted its 7 millionth sale.
It's a big show for Volkswagen, which will unveil the 2015 Golf subcompact, a car it desperately needs right now. Its Audi will sibling will show the new TT. Lincoln will probably use the show to tout its Black Label premium trim. And expect to see the new V-Series ATS from Cadillac.
Toyota will most certainly show the Mirai four-door fuel- cell car that it is testing in California along with a partnership with hydrogen infrastructure firm FirstElements. Sibling Lexus will continue its performance pitch with the RC coupe sports car, and NX compact utility.
Volvo Cars is using the L.A. show as a kickoff point for its experiment with Google Cardboard, the open-tech project where a cardboard contraption can turn your smartphone into a kind of digital stereoscope. Volvo is using it to create a virtual reality campaign for the forthcoming 2015 XC90. Users have to download a "Volvo Reality" app, and insert their phone in the Google Cardboard to create the virtual test drive.
Said Bodil Eriksson, EVP, product, brand, marketing and communications at
Volvo North America, “With Google Cardboard we can deliver an experience that is so much richer than simple videos or pictures."