Car enthusiasts all over the world converged on Los Angeles over Thanksgiving weekend to take in one of the biggest U.S. auto shows. From new car models to stunning electric car hybrids and popular crossovers, the L.A. Auto Show was the opportunity for car geeks everywhere to attend and see what everyone’s talking about.
Some of the most buzz-worthy cars included the latest Porsche Cayman and the Toyota RAV4. Visitors also saw awesome new features like three-cylinder engines and phone navigation systems. In case you missed the show, there’s lots of great coverage online to help you feel like you were there. Check out some great show pics here.
Here’s an overview of the key highlights:
Two dozen world debuts of a variety of new models and concept cars took place, including the newly redesigned 2014 Cayman from Porsche; a new version of the Boxster Convertible that includes a hardtop roof; and the all-new 2013 Toyota RAV4 sport-utility vehicle.
From the financial spectrum, hundreds of new models were on display, for practical car buyers to luxury vehicle owners. The hottest news came from introductions of electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Spark EV. GM says the Spark is powered by a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 85 horsepower and will come standard.
Fiat also revealed an electric version of their 500 mini car. And Honda released a new version of its popular and affordable Civic compact car in response to other competitors’ cars that had surpassed the Civic.
It’s tough to mention these great cars without mentioning the things that really make them tick. Performance wheels, such as those by Goodyear tires, are standard on nearly all of these new models. Other innovative features like a tire pressure monitoring system are also becoming more popular.
Goodyear also has its self-inflating tires that will be tested more in 2013. Perhaps next year’s L.A. Auto Show premieres will feature these innovations. These tires are designed to prevent the problem that arises when people neglect to properly inflate their tires, which damages the rubber, spends more fuel mileage and increases the risk of wrecks. This is just one more example of automobile technology advances.
The automobile industry understands the need for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. It also realizes that motor enthusiasts don’t want to sacrifice speed and performance. From both of these comes the need for small, but powerful engines: three-cylinder engines.
While three-cylinder engines have been tried before in the U.S. (without much success), there’s a great need for small, but powerful engines and we’re seeing a new generation emerge.
A key goal of automotive engineering has been to make smaller and lighter engines without losing the power we all know and love, it hasn’t been technically feasible until recent years.
Ford engineer Andrew Fraser, for example, said it’s a virtuous circle, according to the LA Times “As you reduce the weight of the engine, everything else on the vehicle can be lighter, and you get better weight distribution and it drives better. Resistance to turning the car is largely determined by the weight in the front of it.”
However, Ford isn’t the only one dipping their efforts into three-cylinder engineering. We also see BMW, Volkswagen and other manufacturers working on similar models for the coming years.
If you liked that three-cylinder Fiesta, you’ll be able to get it soon. It just went on sale in Europe and it goes on sale in the U.S. in mid-2013.
Who isn’t using their smartphones for everything these days? Now what if you could use your smartphone apps to help you drive? Well, automakers are working on the bridge between car and phone.
You know how all of the high-end vehicles have fancy voice recognition and touch-screen dashboards these days? Manufacturers can charge as much as $2,000 more for these high-tech options, but not everyone can afford the steep price of luxury. What if you could use your smartphone and an ingenious app to achieve the same result? Well, Chevrolet is working on just that.
With Spark and the Sonic (small and inexpensive vehicles), you’ll find a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen and the GM MyLink feature. With this, you can purchase a BringGo app (for only $50) and get nearly all the features of an embedded navigation system— emergency information, points of interest, maps, directions, and more.
MyLink also allows you to use Pandora, Stitcher and other apps right in your vehicle with ease. This is a very affordable option for anyone who already has an Apple or Android smartphone. While not all automobile demographics fit in the smartphone category, we can expect options like this to continue to grow in popularity as these phones also become more commonplace.
Summing It Up
These new vehicles range in starting price from $20,000 for the Ford Transit to $99,000 for the new Jaguar. Even if a new car isn’t on your shopping list for the near future, auto enthusiasts alike will all agree that it’s fun to see what the manufacturers will come out with at each annual L.A. annual show.
This year, definitely showed visitors some big changes and advancements in automobile technology, smart cars and innovative upgrades without leaking out the luxury market.
What’s the future like for the automobile industry? We’re not hovering around in flying cars just yet, but 2013 is likely going to bring us closer to the skies in our wheels than ever before.