LA Auto Show vs The 10 Freeway and Other Surprises
What's An Auto Show Without Traffic?
Going to this year’s show could be the best opportunity in years to actually enjoy it without having to fight the crowds
By Roy Nakano
Sat, Nov 18, 2023 01:17 AM PST
Featured Image: This year’s LA Auto Show may be the first time ever that Teslas are taking part in the ride-and-drive. And not just one or two cars—pretty much the entire line of Teslas (image by R. Nakano).
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2023 Los Angeles Auto Show
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Eleventh Hour Surprises
For weeks, Stellantis had been publicizing the debut of the new USA spec Fiat 500e at the LA Auto Show. And then it announced it was pulling out, citing losses stemming from the United Auto Workers strike. This not only meant Fiat was out, the entire Stellantis line-up, including Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep would be no-shows.
Another eleventh hour development was even more unexpected. Porsche, who had an unwavering track record of displaying its wares at the Show’s Petree Hall, wavered and pulled out from the show.
LA Auto Show vs the 10 Freeway
And perhaps the most unexpected encounter of them all: a massive fire engulfs the 10 Freeway - the closest artery to the LA Convention Center, where the show is held. The fire shuts down the freeway completely and indefinitely - and right where the Convention Center is located.
The reaction from our colleagues in the automotive press was not unexpected: “I’m staying the hell away.” “I know of others that are already passing, besides myself.” With all that is streamed online and available, a personal appearance at the convention center is no longer necessary to cover the show. But we got LA Car’s Zoran Segina to scout the area the day before the press preview. His findings led us to believe traffic conditions weren’t all that bad.
Most of us made it to the LA Auto Show in record time. It seems everyone near the vicinity of the 10 Freeway that can telework decided to do so. It’s reminiscent of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles when half the people left town to avoid the crowds. It’s not quite that good, but the point is don’t let the Big Bad 10 Freeway scare you away.
For the battle between the LA Auto Show and the 10 Freeway, we have a winner: The LA Auto Show.
There were only two world debuts on site: Lucid’s first ever SUV, the Gravity, and the all-new Subaru Forester. If you count world debuts that occurred off site, there were two more: The Toyota Crown Signia SUV and the all-new Toyota Camry. Most significantly for the Camry, Toyota announced the entire line would be powered by hybrid electric propulsion.
If you count North American debuts, auto show debuts or Southland debuts, then the numbers grow: Acura’s new all-electric ZDX Type S made its auto show debut in the Southland. Chevrolet had its hybrid electric Corvette E-Ray on display. Ford showed off its $300,000 Mustang GTD. Not there at the press preview but promised for the public show is Ford’s newest Mustang GT California Special. Honda had its new all-electric Prologue on display. Hyundai introduced its radically new version of the Santa Fe for the first time on this continent. Kia showed off its EV3 and EV4 concept electric vehicles and introduced a new version of its Sorrento called the X-Pro (see Berry Reed’s write up further down). Volvo didn’t have a display but had its $35,000 EX30 all-electric compact SUV on view as a finalist for the North American SUV of the Year competition.
With Stellantis pulling Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Jeep and Fiat from the LA Auto Show, it left a huge hole in the West Hall of the Convention Center. Ford decided to take the opportunity and turn it into the largest auto show indoor ride and drive anyone has ever seen. What it didn’t use for the ride and drive, it used to display its automotive wares. Ford had taken over almost the entire West Hall. LA Auto Show winner: Ford.
Over at the South Hall, the absence of Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, and Volvo left an opportunity for Toyota to build a stadium-size display. In addition to its world debut of the new Crown Signia SUV and Camry and displays of every single car it sells here in the USA, Toyota used much of its space to showcase its involvement in the U.S. Special Olympics. It’s quite breathtaking. LA Auto Show winner: Toyota.
As for the Southern Californian car consuming public, this year’s LA Auto Show may be the one of the few times that you can attend and encounter less traffic - both on the streets and in the Convention Center. The show organizers will take a big hit this year, given the publicity surrounding the 10 Freeway closure and the no-shows by some big names. On the other hand, there is still a lot there at the Show, including possibly the first ever major ride-and-drive opportunity of the entire Tesla line, a street food sampling event (limited to certain days), and the Kevin Hart Kollection (at Petree Hall, where Porsche used to be). Going to this year’s show could be the best opportunity in years to actually enjoy it without having to fight the crowds - sort of like the reason some people go to only on Disneyland on rainy days.
The majority of this article was written by Roy Nakano, with inserts and thoughts by our noted contributors.
About The Author
Roy Nakano gave birth to LACar in the late '90s, having previously delivered LA Audio File back in the '80s. Aside from the occasional review, Roy likes to stray off the beaten automotive path: "Six Degrees of Reparations" reflected on the regretful ethical paths taken by car companies throughout history. "Traveling Through the Past and Present of the Green Book" looked at businesses that took a stand against racism and the man that wrote the book on where to find them. "Best Cars to Drive in Rush Hour Traffic" was an LACar guide published in the pre-GPS era. "In Search of the First Datsun 510 Tuner" looked at one of the milestones in the origin of import tuners.