Throw your gaze in any direction under the glaring stage lights at the Los Angeles Auto Show and your eyes will land on the newest and greatest wares of every major (and some not so major) automobile manufacturer this world has to offer. The LA Auto Show has become the premier event to unveil new models for the United States market, usurping even the Detroit Auto Show, despite the former’s vicinity to the US’s Big Three automakers. But the LA show is also, obviously, in Los Angeles, California. LA is the biggest car sales city, in the biggest car sales state, in the second largest car sales country. And Los Angeles has particular tastes as to what it wants from a new car.
LA used to be covered in smog. I mean, it still kind of is, but compared to how bad the air pollution was in the 70’s, the air here now might as well be as clean as virgin snow. Angelenos have never really gotten over how bad the air was, and have embraced ecological causes of all sorts in a massive bear hug. We have to check our vehicle’s emissions equipment every two years, we allow alternative fuel vehicles to use the carpool lane, and we passed tax credits for buying electric cars.
Against this green-loving backdrop, the 2019 Auto Show was used by no less than nine automakers to debut new electric vehicles, from Volkswagen’s trippy Space Vizzion concept to the headlining Ford Mustang Mach-E. In my decade of automotive experience that certainly appears to be a record number. We already knew that the next 18 months are going to see a flurry of activity in the electrification of the automobile, but the 2019 LA Auto Show brightly delineates just how quickly this sea-change is occurring, and just how excellent many of these cars will be.
Modern electric cars have gone from backyard brews, to a single major player with zero experience (for better and for worse) in the automotive industry, to now with every major automobile brand bringing out an electric sedan or SUV in 2020. The convention center floor is packed with every shape and size of EV, whether your tastes are pedestrian or supercar-specific. Looking around, one can’t help but have the feeling that carmakers have heard the great yelling and gnashing of teeth from consumers about our demand for excellent and affordable electric transport.
This is actually surprising when you remember that the last time the economy was doing this well, automakers were debuting Hummers and Ford Raptors. Not so in 2019. It was painfully obvious which automakers didn’t have some new EV or hybrid powertrain to gloat about. Indeed, those without generally had displays empty of anyone but company personnel. It would seem that if you don’t go green, you won’t make green.
Seeing all these spectacular EVs at the 2019 LA show truly gives me hope for humanity. It feels like the industry has turned a corner from which it can never retreat. Electric is not just the future for the wealthy or the early adopters, but for everyone. As it should be.
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