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Los Angeles Auto Show Preview

The Los Angeles Auto Show has opened its doors to the media. See what you can expect there this year.

If you are interested in the latest alternative energy developments and want to continue the exciting wave of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles intoxicating wave of the past few years, this year’s LA Auto Show will somewhat disappoint you. Gone are the prominently displayed electric cars, EVs and the exciting plug-in hybrids, PHEV and extended range electric vehicles, EREV. This year is more about practicality.

LA Auto Show Highlights.

iDrive, uDrive BMW. The highlights will definitely be BMW’s iDrive with its i3 and stunning i8. Both cars are showing their latest development, top off for the i8 and functional interior for the i3. BMW is holding its design cues even in the close to production series. Kudos BMW!

Hybrid Jetta. On the VW side, all eyes are on the hybrid Jetta. The Jetta hybrid comes in a little late into the hybrid game but offers a lot, at least on paper. I briefly spoke to Darryll Harrison, the Manager of the Brand Communication - West who explained to me how the company wants to introduce its first hybrid. The car is certainly well designed, see our last article that talks in more details; VW Announces The 2013 Jetta Hybrid Price.

Asked about why it has taken VW so long to release a hybrid, Darryll was honest in saying the company has invested so much into its diesel technology that hybrids and electric took somewhat of a second seat. However, they wanted the Jetta to be as close as possible to perfect and give its clientele a true VW experience. So far, so good.

GM Spark EV. Chevy is prominently displaying its electric Spark, which certainly looks attractive on paper. We’ll have to see how it drives to compare performance to the high claims the company is making.

Fiat Is Electrified. Fiat is showing a lot of cars, including the enticing little 500 Abarth, as well as the much expected 500e, it’s electric version. I’ve been following the development of the electric Fiat 500 since 2008 when the English company Nice had a working prototype. While Marchionne goes on the record as not believing completely in the EV dream, at least this is a step in the right direction, and certainly, the only one from Italy. The Dodge Darts are well displayed and a nice concept based on the Rally gives us a glimpse of where Chrysler might take that car into the future. Chrysler, go bold!

Honda EV-Ster. Honda is back with a vengeance and is showing serious signs of rekindling with its true design and driving heritage. A very cool looking EV-ster is displayed first row showing plenty of potential and definite modern look for the company. Of course the Accord Plug-In Hybrid is there and we’ll hear more about it as the days go by. It sounds like Honda gets, Honda is back.

Nissan Leaf to Delta Wing. Nissan is showing the inescapable electric Leaf not too far away from another car that is slowly revolutionizing and redefining racing, the Delta Wing. The car is even more impressive upon closer look and the odd wheel formation is striking. A quick talk with Ben Bowlby, the designing brawn behind the Delta Wing confirms this car is as fun to drive as it is to stare at. Ben, can I drive it please now?

Ford’s Impressive Power of Choice. Ford is again showing its might with its full range of cars that come in all sizes, from small and zippy Fiestas to flat out Mustang raw power and choice of motorization. But the smart display has to go to Lincoln, a brand Ford has had mitigated success with its resolutely modern image. You will find iconic past Lincolns on display that will help you put the pieces together and understand better what the brand is trying to achieve.

This year marks a more mature message from companies and departs from the enthusiastic and will electric years that followed the 2008 year of the electric car revolution. Stay tune for the test drives. While you might be disappointed if you’re looking solely for electric and plug-in hybrids, this year’s LA Auto Show will give you a good idea of what is available, coming up on the market or in design.