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2016 LA Auto Show Changes Its Image and Atmosphere

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2018 Volkswagen Atlas

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

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LOS ANGELES, - November 21, 2016: After 109 years, the Los Angeles Auto Show made a major change in order to stay alive in the future. After moving the show from early January to mid-November several years ago, the organizers proved to be on top of the changing trends within the automotive industry. Then introduced a new event, the Connected Car Expo, to open its doors the day before the two press days.

This year, the CCE was combined with the LA Auto Show to form AutoMobility LA, a trade show offering a view of new technologies in the auto scene, and GO - a showcase of personal mobility devices and apps.

With a lot more companies showing their products, the Convention Center could not offer enough exhibit space. A temporary home was found for the Technology Pavilion in the Gilbert Lindsay Plaza, just across the Convention Center that also accommodated some 100 new cars for test drives by visitors of the show.

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Honda Civic Si Prototype

For the media, the auto show started with the presentation of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, first SUV of the brand. Unfortunately, many international journalists went to the South Hall in vain: the unveiling took place outside, in front of the main entrance...and on invitation only!!!

It was the start of a ?slow’ day, with just nine more press conferences. BMW is letting us wait a bit longer for the world premiere of the 5 Series: The new generation will be in Detroit. But next week I will join the first drive event in Portugal. Please stay tuned.

A new important entry in the segment of small crossovers will be the 2018 Ford EcoSport. The India produced car has a hatch that opens when you touch the taillight on the passenger side.

The Eco-Sport was on display just across the floor to the new Honda Civic that made its world premiere in September in Paris; while the Mini Countryman made its debut at an event before the show. It is also the first plug-in hybrid for the brand.

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Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Cabriolet

Daimler came to Los Angeles with a new model, the Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Cabriolet. The large super-luxury convertible will be available in three colors. Daimler is limiting production to 300 units.

In 2015, Fiat presented the ?Star Wars’ Stormtrooper 500e in Los Angeles, but this was not a production model. This year, it is serious: Nissan rolled out the Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition, an AWD that will be available worldwide in a limited production of 5,400 units.

The limited edition Rogue One is an idea of Nissan and Lucasfilm, the production company that is on the brink of releasing the next film in the space series, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The model comes with a full size replica of the “Death Trooper” helmet. On the show floor we did not see the black-and-white Star Wars model, but a premium variant of the 2017 Rogue. That does not mean the displayed car did not have a lot attention. On the contrary, you could not miss the large Star Wars TIE Fighter!

Jeep presented the long-awaited newly designed Compass, and Mazda showed the renewed CX-5. Of the current model some million and a half units have been sold. The new version undoubtedly is a CX-5, but with a more modern look.

Furthermore, there was the North American premiere for the Toyota CH-R that we had already seen in Paris. Porsche crossed the Atlantic Ocean with a hybrid variant of the Panamera and the RSR version of the 911. The Smart electric drive is the latest addition to the micro brand, that remains perfect for city driving, but we had also seen the tiny EV in Paris.

Cadillac showed the PHEV of the CT6, a first green variant for the brand. That also goes for the Chevy Bolt EV and Chrysler’s Pacifica. The Kia Optima does not only offer the plug-in, but also the normal hybrid version.

Oh, and let’s not forget autonomous driving! Hyundai previewed the future with the Ioniq self-driving concept, a version of the Ioniq Hybrid., one of the three family members of this new Hyundai nameplate.

One of the really new vehicles is the Volkswagen Atlas, a midsize SUV with seven seats. It'll go on sale next year as a 2018 model. The Atlas will offer two different engines, a 238 hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo and a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder with 280 hp, both combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission. AWD will be optional.

Also a new nameplate is the Volvo V90 Cross Country. The new model is based on the V90 and should fill the gap between the V90 and the XC90.

With more variants than new models, I agreed with many of my overseas colleagues that this year’s show is less exciting than the years before. We also agreed that the concept cars are the stars of the 2016 show. More about them, including a closer look at the Cadillac Escala Concept and the stunning Jaguar i-Pace Concept in the next days. Please stay tuned.