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Los Angeles auto show 2010: news, blogs, galleries

Thu, 18 Nov 2010

5.37pm: That's all folks
It speaks volumes that the LA show is over so quickly. This is a very compact show compared to the world's larger auto expos. More news to follow in separate articles, and we'll have a new analysis piece on the LA show 2010 in the morning. Plus more pics and plenty of stuff we've missed off here. Thanks for tuning in!

4.49pm: Chrysler and the new Fiat 500
Chrysler appears to be getting better, albeit at a snail's pace. Fiat made its return to the US market at the LA show, where the 500 made its US debut. It'll be badged Cinquecento in the States and built locally in South America once the factory's up and running. Evidence of downsizing is everywhere at this year's show. Meanwhile, Chrysler said it's selected 130 dealers to represent Fiat in the US from 2012. Dodge has refreshed the Journey and Durango, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit and Jeep Liberty Jet speak volumes for the scale of all-new product at the LA show chez Chrysler...

4.12pm: More detail on the AMG-Ducati deal
You've asked for more detail on the Ducati deal, and here it is. AMG and Ducati announced a partnership at the LA show, signed by the chiefs of the two firms. The deal will see the two firms combine marketing activities and they say their focus on racing and driving passion will allow each to access new customers. The deal means that AMG will be a sponsor of the Ducati Moto GP team from 2011; in return, customers at AMG events will be able to sample Ducati bikes. Expect more cooperation in future.

3.32pm: Tie-ups with Bentley and more strange goings-on at Porsche 
Just out of CAR's meeting with Mr Muller, who confirms that Porsche is working on a four-cylinder 'boxer' engine based on the existing flat six, and that it'll power the Cayman and Boxster, but not the company's rear-engined sports car. 'The 911 is the icon of Porsche. I do not like any risk for it, so there will be no four-cylinder or diesel to risk the image and the Porsche brand.' Also under development is a plug-in Panamera using the existing V6 engine rather than a smaller downsized combustion engine, but it's not on the cards yet - next year's Panamera Hybrid will be the same full hybrid as the Cayenne. Meantime, Porsche will make a decision on its future models for the next decade in the first quarter of 2011 (including the baby Boxster, for which Porsche has mock-up models and 'all the facts and figures'). Future strategies will likely include a tie-up with Bentley for the next-gen Panamera.

2.28pm: Breaking news in Hethel by California
Breaking news from LA-la-land: Lotus is up to its celebrity tricks, and it's actress Sharon Stone unveiling the Esprit concept. If I remember correctly, there was an Esprit driven by a mostly naked nutter in Basic Instinct. Lotus CEO Dany Bahar says Shazza inspired him as a youngster, which summons up a load of wrong images. Billy Baldwin is back, whipping the covers off the Elan. Meanwhile, Paul Stanley from Kiss and some rock star whose name I didn't catch unveil  the Elite (slogan 'designed for life', so maybe they should've hired the Manic Street Preachers). Then the budget runs out, and Lotus staffers do the rest. And industry warhorse Bob Lutz, whose 'this company is well funded and well managed' rhetoric feels almost a little try-hard. It's amazing how the unveiling of five new cars can drag on a little; they should have done these five new Lotus sports cars in instalments. 

2.15pm: Is that tumbleweed?
It has to be said, the LA show's not exactly packed with new metal. Things are quietening down already. Lotus press conference coming up, though. What publicity stunts can we expect there? 

1.55pm: Subaru - the big design masterplan
Let's go through the time tunnel back to 11.40am, when I sat down with Subaru head of design Osamu Namba, before his Impreza concept was unveiled. Hard to believe considering the brand's fall from grace in the UK, but Subaru has doubled its US sales in the recession and cracked the top 10 automotive brands here. Next year's new Impreza will bring more quality, more space, boost fuel economy and generally turn up the desirability. There's a lot to take in with the concept: some hyperactive Bangle surfacing, athletic proportions, a gaudy grille: it'll certainly get the Impreza talked about, instead of ignored. Namba agrees with my contention that Subaru has been wildly inconsistent in the Noughties, but dismisses my point that the concept looks more family oriented: he wants plenty of aggression. Subaru is admitting the current Impreza isn't much cop, abandoning the typical seven-year life cycle two years early. The concept certainly looks promising - but they're bound to water it down, especially that low roofline...

1.40pm: Honda's new EV
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito unveils not a car, but the new plug-in tech that will feature in medium and large Hondas in future. We'll see the first car in 2012 and the lithium ion batteries will let it travel up to 15 miles in EV mode. Then there is a new electric vehicle, and exactly what it is has been kept secret until this moment. Sadly it's just a Honda Fit, a Jazz to us Europeans. Worthy, but it also leaves us thinking where has Honda's flair gone?

1.33pm: A face from CAR of yore
Bumped into former CAR Magazine editor Angus Mackenzie, lording it at his hometown show. Angus's iPad app version of Motor Trend goes on sale tomorrow and he's very excited by his new 'toy'. Neat idea with the cover: Trend's car of the year is beneath a sheet, and as you slide your fingers across, it reveals the winner. The clue's in the cover lines: 'US built. Breakthrough...'

1.20pm: Nissan's usual madness
Quick visit to Nissan to see the rather nice Ellure concept and the WTF convertible Murano. Is there a reason we don't often see open-top 4x4s? I think so... 

12.57pm: Ford's business in focus
Over at Ford, Mark Fields is in evangelical mood. It's like he's addressing investors: 'The Ford Focus represents our best option for profitable growth,' he vows as he unveils the production US-spec Focii. He adds that C-segment sales are up from 14 to 20% of the US market. Ford is betting the farm on that continuing.

12.29pm: Dealer specials
Porsche is present at LA, but smaller sports car brands tend to be represented by local dealers. It's why the Rapide on Aston Martin's stand is sitting on a very aftermarket set of rims.  

12.20pm: The Subaru unveiling... 
Moment of truth as Subaru unveils its future design direction and gives big hints to the new Impreza due by the end of 2011. A bit of dry ice, blue light and Subaru of America staff in Burberry shawls! Did they not hear of Jonny Smith's Chavalier hammering the brand... Strewth. It's the bastard lovechild of a Mondeo, Mazda and an Evo X!

12.05pm: Lotus blowing their trumpet again 
Over to Lotus, who will unveil five new concepts later today. Not five more new ones, we presume. All, stupidly, are still under covers, even though the world has seen them all before. Wonder if the Baldwin brothers will turn up this time, after their Paris appearance. It's vital for Lotus to crack the US market, so a big splash in LA will help no end.

11.50am: Kia's eyes for Caddy 
Catch Kia design chief Peter Schreyer checking out the Cadillac ULC. He tells me he's very keen on the Evoque, but will only smile when I ask if his company will do their own version of the imminent Hyundai Veloster (think the Scirocco from Korea). Schreyer's staying mum, but I sense it's likely - it could finally realise the promies of the Kia Kee concept car. 

11.43am: Gatecrashing Fox TV
I dare to walk up to a lovely red five-door Range Rover Evoque, next to which chief designer Gerry McGovern seems to be idly waiting. The next moment, I'm being frogmarched in the opposite direction by security, having nearly stumbled into a live broadcast with Fox News. Ian Callum then talks the tanned hosts around the C-X75 before they switch to the Rangie. 

11.30am: Saab news
Saab top brass are full of beans, as usual. News just in: the new 9-5 wagon will be at Geneva motor show 2011. The new platform being readied for 2012's new 9-3 can be upscaled for the next-generation 9-5 and 9-4X - but now shrunk for the mooted 9-1 or 9-2 (whatever you choose to call Saab's hoped-for Mini rival). That's why they still need a small car partner. And what of diesel engines? Having announced a deal with BMW to provide petrol 1.6 turbos, we'll soon be hearing of a derv partner. No word yet on who, though.

11.20am: The Cadillac supermini
Most interesting new concept in the west hall is the Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept. Designed by 37-year-old Brit Niki Smart, which is a most appropriate surname for the diametric opposite of the neighbouring Escalade. 'We've been exploring a small premium project for a long time,' says Smart. It's the size of a Mini and it's surprising how well Caddy's Art and Science design language works on a monobox. The ULC is not based on an existing architecture to ensure the freedom to create good space for four passengers and the airy feeling of luxury. Up front is a turbo three-pot, an electric motor spins the back axle for Peugeot-style 4wd. Best thing at LA so far.  

10.45am: Merc to join forces with Ducati
Blimey. Who'd have thought it? Mercedes' AMG arm is doing a joint deal with bike specialist Ducati. More news soon.

10.30am: Jaguar spying on Acura? You'd better believe it!
Just seen Jag's advanced design chief Julian Thomson and two acolytes checking out the interior on Acura's X6-alike. Don't panic - it's professional interest only. An ungainly crossover is not on Jag's model wishlist. Yet.

10.28am: Saab and the new 9-4X
Just arriving in the soothing calms of the Saab stand. Plenty of Scando wood and cool colours. About to interview top brass Jan Ake Jonsson and Victor Muller, CEO and chairman respectively. Bound to hear all about the new 9-4X, so I must ask why they're mad enough not to even plan a diesel engine. The pair are always frank, so it should be fun. 

10.22am: Float or sink time?
Much chit-chat among the halls over GM's flotation. They announced today that they'd increase the stock sold from 365 million to 478 million shares. They're obviously feeling punchy; GM's already upped the price range for common stock to $32-$33 per share.

10.02am: Credits or not, you're not coming in
Woops. It seems CAR's ever-scatty Chris Chilton has forgotten his accreditation. That'll be straight to the back of the queue to re-register for a media pass.

9.20am: Models and supermodels at VW
Meet editor Phil McNamara at the Volkswagen press conference. The facelifted Eos is introduced and gets mobbed. I'm intrigued. It doesn't look that different to me, and not a little cautious. I then spot supermodel Heidi Klum, the sleb of choice who ushered it on stage. Every hack wants of photo with her. The newly refreshed Eos looks like the Golf. Heidi looks gorgeous. 

9.07am: Chevrolet, green and mean
It's taken four years for Chevrolet to launch the Camaro Convertible, but now it seems we'll have to wait even longer. This press conference is all about the Volt, and the CEO has driven his all the way down from Detroit. Dan Akerson claims he's previously driven 1100 miles and only filled up once. Are we about to be taken over by Voltmania? Hardly. GM's only going to build 12,000 in 2011. Then they're onto rorty and naughty cars. The Camaro Convertible is rolled out, and the press conference ends.

9.00am: Treats in store
Stick around tonight for an intriguing motor show. LA 2010 holds a few surprises in store. We say surprises, but we're about to ruin it for you. There will be an electric Honda concept, a new Lamborghini and a break-through Subaru concept. Plus a few more we can't mention yet. Stay tuned.

8.53am: Manna from Munich
The Chevy press conference appears to be running late, so I head to BMW. Tucked away behind the X6 Hybrid is the Naughty Stuff: an X6 M, an ALMS M3 racer and an M3 Coupe. Not the hardcore one, however; this one sports a sunroof, not a carbon roof. How LA.  

8.46am: Lexus - a posh, restrained upmarket brand?
Err no. I rush past the Lexus stand on the way to the first press conference of the day. Front and centre of the stand is a be-winged GS and an LS so low its sills are half hidden in the plush carpet. Lexus has always stood for refined luxury, so these two SEMA cars seem utterly at odds with everything else on the stand. 

8.20am: An American jam
It wouldn't be LA without some time spent in traffic. And our hotel isn't near Downtown, so it's taking an age to reach the Convention Center. 

8.00am: The show is about to begin
CAR has a team of three roving reporters at the LA show. Two flew out yesterday and should be jet-lagged to high heaven. One has been on a secret assignment and has had time to adjust. It should be fun: there are some big American launches in the offing, a smattering of big European debuts and some big-hitting Japanese unveilings planned too. Stay tuned today as CAR guides you around the 2010 Los Angeles auto show.

By Ben Pulman, Phil McNamara and Chris Chilton in Los Angeles