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10 Best of the LA Auto Show

Cars, trucks, crossover and concepts worth a second look.

by on Dec.03, 2018

The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator pickup made for one of the splashiest debuts at the LA Auto Show.

We’ve been to some dud auto shows over the last year. The Paris Motor Show, which kicked off the 2019 model-year, couldn’t even fill up a half day on the media calendar, and the Detroit Auto Show didn’t stretch much further. But this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show delivered some sweet surprises with its mix of cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts.

As we’ve come to expect from the Tinseltown extravaganza, there were plenty of green machines making their first appearance at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but these weren’t the sort of slow and stodgy sedans and quirky hatchbacks of years past, covering a broad swath of territory including electrified SUVs, pickups and sports cars. And there were plenty of promising products that fell into more conventional categories.

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Here’s an alphabetical look at 10 of our favorite debuts at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show:

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Chinese EV Maker Byton Unwraps 2nd Model at L.A. Auto Show

“We need a lot of funding,” CEO admits, outlining challenges ahead.

by on Dec.03, 2018

Byton CEO Carson Breitfield talks about the new K-Byte EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The global automotive market is in the midst of a revolution, something obvious to anyone attending this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Not only are we seeing a push into new technologies like electrification and autonomy, but the established carmakers are being taken on by a variety of automotive upstarts.

To a list that already includes the likes of Tesla, Faraday Future and Rivian, add China-based Byton. The company helped anchor the first day of previews at the L.A. Auto Show by unveiling a prototype of what it says will be its second new model, the K-Byte. But Byton officials also acknowledged that they still face challenges in their road to production.

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The debut of the K-Byte follows Byton’s original prototype, the M-Byte, and targets a relatively mainstream buyer, at least by the standards of the electric vehicle market. According to Breitfeld, the sleek battery-sedan will come in at a starting price of around $45,000 when it comes to market. The target, at least, is to have it reach showrooms in China next year, followed by a late 2019 launch in the U.S., and a European roll-out in 2020. (more…)

Kia Has More Soul(s) Than Ever

Quirky crossover now available in a variety of distinct forms.

by on Nov.30, 2018

Kia now boasts six versions of the Soul crossover for 2020, including the new GT model.

Consider it food for the Soul: Kia has introduced six distinct new flavors of its quirky Soul crossover.

The car that showed us boxy can be beautiful will be back in an all-new form next year and Kia hopes to increase its appeal by adding new versions, including the GT and X-Line, while improving the appeal of the Kia Soul EV by boosting range and speeding up its charging system.

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“The Soul has been a massive success since its introduction, establishing itself as an automotive icon with its fun-loving character and eccentric style,” said Orth Hedrick, product planning chief for Kia Motors America. “Even with a new generation of competitors crowding the marketplace, the all-new Soul will once again prove to be a tough contender, with its unparalleled style and impressive level of technology and customization options.” (more…)

Nissan’s Flagship Maxima Only Gets Better for 2019

Part family car, part racer powered by 300 hp V6.

by on Nov.30, 2018

Dan Mohnke, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan North America, left, and Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Global Design unveil the 2019 Nissan Maxima.

Just as more and more automakers seem to be fleeing from passenger cars, Nissan appears to be doubling down — at least if the 2019 Maxima unveiled in Los Angeles is any indication.

The Maxima has long been the company’s flagship sedan. It’s part family hauler and part race car — maybe more race car. In an era that has seen passenger car sales fall precipitously, the Maxima roars on for next year, especially since it sports a standard 300 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 powerplant.

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“As our flagship sedan, Maxima is an important contributor to the Nissan brand,” said Dan Mohnke, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan Division U.S., Nissan North America, Inc. “Maxima is our longest running nameplate, having thrilled owners for four decades with style, performance and quality.” (more…)

Mercedes Debuts New GLE Ute in Los Angeles

The new GLE is bigger than its predecessor.

by on Nov.30, 2018

Mercedes-Benz rolled out its new 2020 GLE sport-ute at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Most of the L.A. Auto Show product intros centered either a new EV or SUV – sometimes both – Mercedes-Benz took on the latter with the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE.

The new GLE is more evolution than revolution with the updates for the 2020 model focusing more on innovation than design makeover. The new model gets updates on its existing advanced driver assistance systems.

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“The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wealth of innovations. For example, the active suspension system E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL on a 48-volt basis is a world first,” said Dietmar Exler, president and USA, Mercedes-Benz USA. (more…)

Honda Insight Named Green Car of the Year

Jaguar I-Pace and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV also honored.

by on Nov.29, 2018

Honda's Ray Mikichuk with Green Car Publisher Ron Cogan and Green Car of the Year Insight.

The 2019 Honda Insight was named the Green Car of the Year on Thursday, during a news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The hybrid sedan had to share the stage, however, with two other winners, the Jaguar I-Pace taking home a trophy as Luxury Green Car of the Year, while the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was honored as SUV Green Car of the Year.

The award comes as something of a vindication for Honda. The automaker was actually the first to sell a hybrid in the U.S. market, but the original, two-seat Insight, launched in 1999, was a slow seller and a second version bearing the Insight badge didn’t do much better. The new model finally appears to be connecting with consumers by “being a no-compromise vehicle,” Ray Mikichuk, Honda’s assistant vice president for U.S. sales, told TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Volvo Expecting to Slow Ramp-Up of Charleston Plant Due to Trump Tariffs

Hiring to slow; impact could be long-term if some production shifts to China.

by on Nov.29, 2018

Volvo President & CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the tariffs implemented by the Trump administration are forcing a production slow down at its new Charleston, S.C. plant.

Volvo expects to slow the pace of expansion at its new factory near Charleston, South Carolina, due to the Trump trade war with China.

The move could impact how quickly the automaker expands production at the $1.1 billion plant, as well as the pace at which it brings on new workers. The workforce was expected to nearly triple, to around 4,000, by early in the coming decade with the addition of a second model at the plant. But some production now could be shifted to China, potentially having a long-term impact on plans for the factory.

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Volvo issued an official statement Thursday noting, “trade issues may impact the pace of the expansion.” But in conversations with reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, Volvo’s global CEO Håkan Samuelsson took things further, indicating the production ramp-up will slow down. (more…)

New Porsche 911 Models Come Fast … and Faster

Want a race ready 911? 200 folks can get the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.

by on Nov.29, 2018

The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S hits the runway at its debut in Los Angeles, the night before the LA Auto Show.

Porsche arrived in Los Angeles the night before the auto show hyping a theme for the debut of the eighth-generation 911: fast and faster.

The best-known of all Porsches with that iconic profile, the next-gen of flat-six turbocharged beasts gets more power as well as a complete redesign of the interior to cater to the needs of today’s driver.

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The flat-six is more powerful than ever, putting out 443 horsepower in the S and Carrera S models. The boost in power – 23 hp – comes from an improved fuel injection process and a new turbocharger and intercooler layout, according to the automaker.  (more…)

Hyundai Goes Big With New Palisade SUV

3-Row, 8-seater is next in a wave of utes coming from Korea.

by on Nov.29, 2018

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade give the company an eight-passenger SUV to compete with the big boys.

Hyundai is racing to make up for lost time. The Korean carmaker has been slow to embrace the rapid transformation of the American market, motorists by the millions switching from cars to light truck. But it is launching its third new SUV of the year at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade, which goes on sale next summer, is the biggest SUV the carmaker has ever offered – with three-row seating for up to eight adults. It’s also the most lavishly equipped, with an outsized array of creature comforts and safety features that could surprise anyone who still thinks of Hyundai as an economy brand.

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With even more to come, “There’s no question about it. We’re in the SUV game big time,” said Brian Smith, Hyundai’s U.S. chief operating officer, during the debut of the Palisade at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (more…)

VW’s Keogh Confirms Plans for New US Plant for Electric Vehicle

New site will build $30K to $40K EV for U.S. market by 2020.

by on Nov.29, 2018

VW of America President Scott Keogh confirmed plans to bring an EV to the U.S. by 2020 and VW is looking for location for an EV plant in the U.S.

Volkswagen’s top U.S. official confirmed the German automaker is searching for a place to build a new plant that will produce a new electric vehicle aimed for the mass market with a price tag of less than $40K.

Scott Keogh, VW of America president, told reporters at the L.A. Auto Show that the company was intent on introducing a new EV in the U.S. by 2020. The vehicle would be priced between $30K and $40K, making it competitive with the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, the current top sellers.

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He also noted the company would like to build this vehicle in the U.S. and a search was underway to find a location for the new plant. (more…)