A few short months ago, many of us were under the impression that this year's LA Auto Show would be a great showcasing of a new direction for the worldwide auto industry. Everyone knew about the MINI E and expected to see more hybrids and fuel cell concepts than ever before. How naive we were. No one knew, or even expected that by the time the show rolled around, the country would have plunged into a recession that would see many of the Big Three executives in Washington begging for money rather than in LA promoting their products.
That was the tone; the overriding sense of desperation from many of the automakers and the inability to escape the news outside of what we journalists were creating at the show. The press events began with a keynote from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, where he grimly outline the fact that there would be both winners and losers in the upcoming consolidation of the auto industry and that all companies were now focused on the short term and the bottom line.
This was reflected primarily in the offerings of the big three. GM cut all their plans for press events, therefore there was no news and no big announcements. Ford hastily mentioned the new Mustang, which was supposed to be its headliner, and quickly moved on to a rather bland discussion of the Fusion Hybrid, a car that has yet to wow anyone but may be Ford's last hope to join the ranks of Toyota and Honda as a "hybrid-seller." Finally, Chrysler managed to underwhelm expect for the breadth of their offerings, many of which gave you the feeling that they were not long for this world.
Obviously the American manufacturers have it harder than their Japanese and Korean counterparts, but those companies were still obviously suffering. Toyota did not host a press event and most attention from these manufacturers was placed on their hybrid and alternative fuel offerings. Honda perhaps seemed the most immune, focusing their energy on the debut of the FC Sport, a fuel cell concept that will never come to market, but still serves to highlight Honda's commitment to the future of driving technology.
So, while we all expected the show to focus on green, the green that we got was the kind you stuff in your wallet and not the kind that grows on trees. I'll be interested to see what happens in Chicago and Detroit after the fate of the Big Three is more or less decided and all the automakers have more time to tailor their offerings to the deepening global recession.
written by Joe, November 27, 2008
written by solargroupies, November 28, 2008
written by Penina, November 29, 2008
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