Even high-performance vehicles are showing vast improvements over previous incarnations.
“L.A. Show attendees are increasingly interested in this next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles and this year demonstrates that there is no single technology that satisfies this increasing demand," said Andy Fuzesi, general manager of the L.A. Auto Show. "The show will feature a dramatic increase in the number of advanced vehicles able to satisfy most car shoppers' needs and budgets."
Advancements in small combustion engines
In order to use less fuel and produce fewer emissions, many buyers are beginning to adapt to smaller yet more powerful four-cylinder gas engines. Amazingly the modern four-banger has replaced the six-cylinder engine as the most common powerplant in the U.S.
Even though larger six- and eight-cylinder vehicles have improved fuel economy, the 40-plus club is expanding rapidly. A World Debut from a still to be announced manufacturer will add another entry to the high mileage club, join a dozen vehicles achieving the once-elusive mileage milestone. New entries into this fuel-efficient commuter category include the Hyundai Veloster, the 2012 Kia Rio and the 2012 Mazda3 with its exclusive SKYACTIV technology.
That engine technology will also be featured in the North American Debut of its all-new CX-5 crossover. BMW will introduce new, more powerful, four-cylinder engine technology placed in popular performance cars - the Z4 and 528. Both boast improved performance and fuel efficiency.
Once considered an oxymoron, clean diesel technology has advanced with modern diesel engines getting excellent mileage while releasing less particulate matter than some gasoline engines. Several models are selling in larger numbers as America becomes cozier with diesel fuel. A prime example is the Audi A3 TDI, which relatively recently won Green Car of the Year. Other examples of modern clean diesel tech will include the Volkswagen Passat TDI, Jetta TDI, Jetta SportWagen TDI and Golf TDI, plus the Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC.
Hybrids, EVs and Plug-ins
The most groundbreaking technological advancements continues to come from hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. So revolutionary are these vehicles they are requiring a new method for measuring fuel economy. The EPA's refers to these new vehicles using MPGe, or a miles per gallon equivalent, to compare the efficiency of electric and alternative-energy vehicles to traditional combustion cars and trucks.
The Tesla Roadster, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt were the first in the EV category, but now numerous EV's are in production and will soon be at dealerships. This catergory at the L.A. Auto Show will include Mitsubishi's all-electric i, which boasts 112 MPGe with a range of 62 miles at an affordable price point.
The most popular hybrid vehicle in the world, the Toyota Prius, will showcase its production, plug-in hybrid version, with an all-electric range of 14.3 miles and an expected total range of 475 miles. According to Toyota, the Prius Plug-in should be rated at 112 MPGe. Significant EV announcements are expected from Honda as well, showcasing their latest hybrid improvements in the new Civic Hybrid and the Insight Hybrid.
BMW will bring two all-new concept vehicles to the LA. Auto Show, debuting as part of the BMW i sub-brand. The futuristic, all-electric i3 Concept is coming closer to reality and will enter production in 2013. The i8 Concept, scheduled for 2014, is a plug-in hybrid sportscar with dual power sources – the i3's electric motor over the front axle coupled to a feisty three-cylinder engine kicking out 220 horsepower at the rear. Working in tandem, they should deliver the performance of a genuine sportscar while achieving up to 62 mpg.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that sunny Southern California is where headquarters for a number of start-up manufacturers involved in the development of electric vehicles, including Fisker and CODA, can be found. Fisker will debut its all-new sport wagon prototype, the Surf, slated for sale in mid-2012. Fisker's first vehicle, the Karma, is a performance sedan just beginning customer deliveries. Los Angeles-based CODA will show its soon-to-be-available all-electric compact sedan. It features a single-charge range of up to 150 miles and 221 feet per pound of torque.
Additional breakthroughs in hybrids and EVs are in the works, including several from Ford, who expects to release five EVs over the next three years. At this year's L.A. Auto Show they will highlight the company’s first all-electric, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, and the 2012 C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid, a five-seat crossover SUV.
On the horizon
The future promises even more options like natural gas (CNG), as used in the Honda Civic GX, as well as biofuels such as ethanol. Hydrogen-powered vehicles have been tested for over a decade and several will be featured at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) are among other technologies currently being tested by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, General Motors and Toyota. Hyundai is already testing a third-generation FCEV, the Tucson.
As the first major North American auto show of the new model year, the 2011 L.A. Auto Show will host some of the most important new vehicle debuts, setting the tone for the year to come. The show is held in the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street, and will open to the public Nov. 18-27.
Directions (extremely important what with off-ramp closures and so on) and other specifics can be found at laautoshow.com.