A downsized LA Auto Show kicks off this week with an unusual media preview. A quick look at the schedule reveals every single product debuting this week will be battery powered.
The list of new products includes Toyota’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle, as well as the Solterra, a BEV little Subaru developed in a partnership with Toyota. There will be products from startups like Fisker, as well as mainstream manufacturers, including Nissan, Kia and Hyundai, and even a pair of electric models from VinFast, the first Vietnamese carmaker to target the U.S. market.
“We’re seeing a flood of electric vehicles coming to market right now,” said Stephanie Brinley, the principal auto analyst with IHS Markit. “It reflects what’s going on in (product) development right now, (with) electrification being truly embraced by manufacturers.”
BEV count set to quadruple
When the 2021 model year drew to a close, there were 13 long-range, battery-electric vehicles available on the U.S. market, along with a handful of short-range offerings. According to a study by TheDetroitBureau.com, the number will top 50 by the end of calendar 2022.
(The final figure depends upon the resolution of the semiconductor shortage, among other factors, BEVs requiring even more chips than conventional vehicles.)
If anything, the pace will continue to accelerate, said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota’s group vice president of product planning and strategy for the U.S. market. “We’re talking over 100 (BEV) nameplates coming to market” by mid-decade.
Battery-electric vehicles, as well as plug-in and conventional hybrids, have been showing up more frequently at auto shows during the last several years. But this week’s LA Auto Show marks the first time such a public event was completely dominated by BEVs.
There will be plenty of gas-powered models on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center, but not a single new one is scheduled to debut there.
The all-electric models debuting in LA include:
- The production version of the Toyota bZ4X, the automaker’s first long-range model — and the first of seven that will make up a new “Beyond Zero” sub-brand;
- The Subaru Solterra. The Japanese automaker partnered with Toyota to develop the all-electric crossover which is expected to deliver about 250 miles of range;
- The Nissan Ariya, the long-awaited second BEV offering from Japan’s second-largest automaker. It effectively will replace the Leaf as Nissan’s battery flagship;
- The Hyundai Seven, officially dubbed a “concept,” it is a thinly disguised version of the Ioniq 7, an all-electric SUV similar in size to the Korean carmaker’s Palisade model;
- The Kia EV9 will share key underpinnings with the Hyundai SUV and serve as the battery-powered counterpart to the carmaker’s popular Telluride model;
- Fisker Inc. will show an updated, production-ready version of the Ocean SUV it plans to bring to production next year;
- Vietnamese startup VinFast will bring two new battery-electric models to the show, the products set to become the company’s first offerings in the U.S. market.
A handful of other startups and niche manufacturers will debut battery-powered products during Wednesday’s media preview, including Mullen and Brembach.
The way of the future
A few new, gas-powered products will be found on show stands, including the latest iteration of the Porsche Cayman, while Nissan will have a new turbo engine for the Rogue crossover. Several manufacturers, meanwhile, are staging private previews away from the L.A. Convention Center, taking advantage of all the media gathering in the city this week.
Significantly, the new Range Rover model being shown off by Jaguar Land Rover will be available with multiple powertrain choices, including an all-electric version.
This year’s Los Angeles is likely going to be unique, at least in the near term, with its complete focus on BEVs. “Not all shows will follow that lead,” said analyst Brinley. “They can’t. We’re still going to have internal combustion vehicles to sell for at least another decade.”
But, with so many more BEVs coming to market — along with hybrids and plug-in hybrids — motorists can expect to see them play a more significant role at all future auto shows, analysts like Brinley anticipate.