Well, this was my very first auto show, so I have nothing to compare it to, but my overwhelming feeling is that it was a good one. I drooled over the high performance cars with their sequin-clad beauties. I got up-close with the Tesla Roadster, talked with executives from several auto-companies, and finally met some fellow members of the online media. I saw Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, most importantly, I felt a lot of excitement surrounding what I think is actually a kind of revolution of the automobile industry.
Now, I could be wrong about this, maybe every year seems revolutionary, but there was an overwhelming theme of this conference in my eyes, and it's one that has a lot of power. Diversity.
In Rick Wagoner's keynote, he pointed out that 100 years ago there was no standard way to power an automobile. Electric cars, steam cars and gasoline cars all shared the market. Now, that's not so much the case, but it's becoming obvious that gasoline is going to have to give up its monopoly on powering transportation.
The choices are expanding every year. Ethanol and bio-diesel are already interfering with petroleum's hegemony, and synthetic fuels are hot on their heals. BMW's new Hydrogen 7 lets the driver choose between hydrogen and gasoline while Honda is, for the first time, getting ready to release a fuel cell vehicle to the public market.
GM's Flex Fuel line lets people fill their tanks with gas or E85, the Tesla Roadster will soon be available as the first all-electric performance car and compressed natural gas vehicles, that you can fill up in your own garage, are becoming viable options as well.
I could be wrong, but I think I just mentioned around seven different ways that cars will definitely be powered in the future. Electricity, hydrogen combustion, hydrogen fuel cells, natural gas, ethanol, bio-diesel, and synthetic fuels...yep, seven. And that doesn't even include different types of powertrains and electricity storage.
People had fewer choices in 1990 than in 1910, but now, they have more. Diversity and choice is what this world needs right now. 100% reliance on gasoline does not work and every major auto manufacturer seems to recognize that. I thought the LA Auto Show was going to just be pomp and fluff, but it was a bunch of real people with good ideas who are excited about the future of their industry. Honestly, I'm excited about the future of their industry as well, and I hope it comes soon.
EcoGeek's coverage of the LA Auto Show was underwritten by the General Motors Company, which, we agree, is very strange since we say some fairly mean things about them with some regularity. The only condition of their assistance (travel and lodging) is that I disclose it, which, of course, I would have done anyway.
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