Los Angeles Auto Show Emphasizes Entertainment, Electrification

Auto shows continue to evolve post-pandemic, and the Los Angeles Show is playing up the fact that Hollywood and the entertainment industry is outside its door. 

For example, this year’s exhibits includes car collections from Kevin Hart and Robert Downey Jr. 

Downey Jr., along with his team of car restoration experts, has modified six classic cars from his personal collection to make them more eco-friendly.

All six cars are being given away in a one-year national sweepstakes. Proceeds from the sweepstakes will benefit Downey’s FootPrint Coalition, a nonprofit organization focused on technologies to advance human systems toward a cleaner environment.

An entire showcase hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center will be devoted to the “Kevin Hart Kollection,” the comedian's favorite personally owned vehicles. 

This will be the first time Hart has displayed his private collection of cars, which he has been building for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, there’s still plenty of traditional releases and news from automakers both on and off the show floor during media days. 

Subaru is going to be unveiling a new vehicle.  I got an early look, and I think it will be worth the wait. Check back in this space after the embargo lifts on Thursday for more information. The photo above is all Subaru will allow to be shown until then. 

Lucid is also debuting a vehicle called Gravity, described as an ultra-high-performance luxury SUV. It’s name fit in well with sibling vehicle, Air, which recently expanded its lineup to include Air Pure, its entry-level sedan starting at $74,900.

Andrea Soriani, vice president of marketing at Lucid Motors will be on hand Thursday for a fireside chat with yours truly at MediaPost’s automotive marketing conference adjacent to the show floor. 

Other automakers holding press conferences and introducing new vehicles include Hyundai, Kia and Acura.

Once the public days begin, experiential is the name of the game. Consumers can experience the thrill of getting behind the wheel and test-driving an electric vehicle on the newly expanded Electric Avenue test track, spanning nearly one mile around the entire South Hall at the LA Convention Center.

Participating brands include Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Lucid, Porsche, VW and Volvo. 

Outside the convention center, street drives will be available in Ford and Subaru vehicles. 

Absent this year is Stellantis, which announced its decision to forego the show due to the expenses associated with the now-settled United Auto Workers strike.

Show organizers quickly pivoted and reallocated what would have been Stellantis’ prime show floor space to other exhibitors, says David Fortin, vice president of marketing at the show. 

Shows continue to be important to consumers, who definitely take note of which automakers are there, he says.

“All the research shows that people are making consideration set changes at the show,” he says. 

Auto shows, including the 117-year-old LA event, are still relevant even if they aren’t media-centric the way they once were.

“You don't need to reinvent yourself, but you have to continue to evolve with what people want,” Fortin tells Drive Time. “And the dollar doesn't go as far as it used to” both when buying a vehicle or taking your family out for entertainment. 

“So we take that to heart,” he says. “How do we create something if you do choose to come…and spend six hours, that you walk away and you're like, ‘That was fun.’ And that's where I think the industry has to go as a whole.”

He says Gen Z and millennials are more open to a changing auto show, which is good for  automakers who are seeking out those very customers who have a long runway ahead of them of how many vehicles they will buy in their lifetime. 

“That older audience who might say, ‘why isn't every automaker there?’ They need a reeducation or they need to move on,” he says. “This event isn't for them anymore. Go do your consideration a different way.”

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