Amid Crisis, Automakers Look Green in L.A.
The show, as they say in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, must go on. In the case of this year’s Los Angeles auto show, that means carmakers are touting their latest wares during a global economic crisis that threatens the very existence of the domestic auto industry.
Even ignoring the dour times, the Los Angeles auto show is traditionally more restrained than most, concentrating on the Birkenstock end of the product line rather than the Manolo Blahniks that take center stage at other shows.
That means a proliferation of practical, comfortable models designed to tread lightly on Mother Earth. They do this using an array of drive technologies including battery electric, fuel-cell electric, gasoline-hybrid electric, natural gas hybrid electric and a bevy of fuel-saving advancements for plain old gasoline internal combustion engine-powered machines.
Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan and Renault, addressed the industry’s environmental challenge in his keynote speech at the show’s opening.
“The World Wildlife Fund has pointed out that if China catches up to U.S. standards of consumption, it will require two planets to sustain our livelihood for the long run,” he observed.
Supplemental planets are in short supply, of course, and so in the interest of conserving resources on our solitary planet, Nissan rolled out the U.S. version if its Cube subcompact at the show.
An example of truth in advertising, the blocky Cube resembles the popular Scion xB, though Nissan’s original 1998 Japanese market box-on-wheels substantially predated the Scion. The cubist Cube is Picasso-esque in its styling, which has a different profile on the right side than the left. And as the Scion has done, Nissan hopes buyers will see the Cube as a blank canvas for their self-expression.
“In some ways the Cube is like the big cardboard boxes you used to play with as a kid,” explained Al Castignetti, vice president of sales for Nissan North America. “They could be clubhouses, race cars, forts, whatever your mood and imagination wanted at the time.”
No doubt some industry executives would like to climb inside and imagine they live in a market where consumers are still buying cars.
Mazda also used the Los Angeles show to introduce a new small car, the replacement for its popular Mazda3. The outgoing car continues to beat the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in comparison tests, but the new model promises to top it in every area. Mazda touts the upcoming car’s reduced aerodynamic drag, more advanced engines and a raft of luxury features as advancements over the current model.
Article continues… MSNBC