|2000 Los Angeles Auto Show
by Jim Bennett
This year's theme is California Dreamin' 2000 and has been promoted as the first major international auto show of 2000. Advertising 20 world debuts of concept or production vehicles to the fast moving, car conscious Southern California culture is always a challenge for attention against other international automotive events.
California influences the world (and especially the US) with cutting edge designs, entertainment, fashion, consumer electronics and the pervasive Internet. Cool vehicles are a key component of the California lifestyle where price is frequently a secondary consideration. Did this forward looking, trend setting, diverse, creative, internationally-based population see exciting vehicles at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show before they make their buying decisions in this increasingly complex automotive world? Read on and I'll give you my impressions of the show.
Perhaps the show's theme should have been "Vehicle Convergence 2000". The build up of major auto shows and products started back in September, 1999 when the massive biannual IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany which introduced BMW's Z8 roadster and Chrysler's Java concept car. Other tech influenced developments included GM's Opel Astra coupe and Omega multimedia wagon with Internet, Mercedes S Class multimedia sedan with mobile office and Internet. Other manufacturers and suppliers showcased other communications technology and fuel efficient products, not always highlighted in the US.
In October, the 33rd edition of the Tokyo Motor Show displayed the breadth and depth of hybrid, ultra fuel efficient vehicles and innovative vehicle platforms for eventual introduction in Japan and later in the US. The Mazda RX-Evolv is a sub 2800 pound four passenger vehicle, powered by the new two rotor Wankel engine which should also be used in the new RX-7 sports car. Gasoline-electric vehicles like Toyota's Prius, Honda's FCX, Insight and Spocket promise new design approaches with twice the fuel economy of our latest gasoline vehicles. Mitsubishi's Pistachio, Subaru's Fleet X and the "anti-design" of the Ford 021C 3 box approach all had their own individual contributions. We will have to wait to see if the consumer will accept them.
In November, the huge SEMA show in Las Vegas previewed near term production vehicles and aftermarket products. Both Ford and GM senior executives announced late breaking and significant e-commerce plans with Oracle and Commerce One to improve bottom lines. Chrysler kept those fabulously styled vehicles flowing in trucks, cars and cross over vehicles.
After New Year's, the expanded and trendy LA Show, the important NAIAS (Detroit) and Chicago shows closely follow each other with more crossover product and technology influences adding to the onslaught. These shows set the capstone for all things automotive for 2000, but are becoming increasingly influenced by technology and shared vehicle platforms.
Finally, the big technology events such as Comdex, CES, CTI, Internet World, NAB Networld/Interop, PC Expo provide insights for an increasingly mobile world. What high-tech products and services will vehicle buyers embrace and be willing to pay money for now and in the future? What will be their ownership experience and overall satisfaction be? Will they have the same "tech hassles" we have experienced in the PC world? What about safety and upgrades? All of these questions need to be successfully addressed by both the automotive and technology industries.
This year's Los Angeles Auto Show starts to give us an idea what to expect in both vehicle and technology convergence for 2000. It does this through "crossover" vehicles using car, truck and mini-van elements like Isuzu VX-02, segment busters such as Chrysler's PT Cruiser, traditional high-performance standards such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and innovative designs such as the flexible, high mileage concepts such as Honda's Spocket.
Dated: January, 2000