LOS ANGELES — In just one week, the doors will swing open for the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show press days. Of the 30 world debuts coming, we’re expecting to see the Volvo “Time Machine” concept, the Fiat 124 convertible, the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra, the Infiniti QX30 crossover, the Jaguar F-PACE utility vehicle and several others.
Before the wraps come off those vehicles, the Connected Car Expo (CCE) will enlighten journalists and other industry experts on Tuesday. The conference unites automotive and technology professionals in an effort to increase development and foster relationship-building in the connected car industry. This year, the CCE has a new home: The J.W. Marriott Hotel.
“The Connected Car Expo, which is entering it’s third year, outgrew the space we had at the convention center,” said Brendan Flynn, the L.A. Auto Show’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We’ve basically moved it to the J.W. Marriott and we have literally taken over the entire hotel–all three banquet rooms, 600 of the 700 hotel rooms, all of the meeting space, all of the hospitality space. It should be a big event.”
How easy or difficult was it to get Lyft co-founder John Zimmer to be your keynote speaker?
“Lyft is going to be making some big news at the show,” Flynn explained. “They were excited about the opportunity to get in front of the auto industry and all of the media that come to the L.A. Auto Show. It wasn’t challenging. The timing’s right to be making these kinds of announcements at an auto show.”
Please give me the highlights of this year’s 2015 L.A. Auto Show. I noticed the banners are already up in the downtown area.
“The advertising is driving some good ticket sales already. Our ticket sales are over last year. It’s going to be a big year. We have 50 total reveals. A lot of really exciting cars from the luxury side, from the Green side. Specifically, I’m excited for that new Fiat 124, some great cars coming from Buick–they have the new LaCrosse, which is going to be completely redesigned. Ford Motor Company has a surprise announcement that they haven’t talked about yet. The Jaguar F-Pace is a great new SUV for them. The Land Rover Evoque convertible, I’m excited to see that. Scion’s got a new concept. Volvo has this new ‘Time Machine’ concept that’s going to give a look into the future of autonomous vehicles. Nissan has a new Sentra. Mazda just announced a new CX-9. Porsche has a bunch of debuts. Audi has four or five debuts. It’s going to be a really huge show.”
Are these mainly going to be 2017’s and 2018’s being revealed?
“Yes, the 2018’s and concepts, the typical forward-looking debuts. Some 2016’s as well.”
You mentioned the Volvo “time machine” concept. Is that related to the anniversary of the “Back to the Future” movie?
“It is not. They did a teaser about it and played on that anniversary. But this concept is unrelated to that.”
For the Motor Press Guild (MPG) Motoring Invitational, can we expect more celebrity appearances?
“I believe there will be many celebrities coming for this year’s Motoring Invitational. But this is a completely different Motoring Invitational. This year, the marquee brand that we’re featuring is Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo is going to make a big showing at this event. They built their own staging. I believe they are having a fashion show. It should be this really huge production they’re having during this unveiling. We kick-off like normal with all of the great food trucks and we expect about 2,000 industry people to gather. We have collectors from all over southern California bringing high-end, Italian collectible cars. A lot of Alfa’s, Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s. It’s going to be a true honoring of Italian sports car heritage.”
Can we expect to see more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at this year’s auto show?
“Yeah, you’re going to see a continuation of fuel cell news coming out of Honda and Toyota. It continues the electrification of which fuel cell is basically an electric car, but its fuel cell powered. You’re going to see more and more of the auto industry moving towards electrification. Whether its standard battery-electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cells.”
I understand more technology companies will have booths at the public show as well.
“The consumer days are also going to feature these new transportation solution companies. We talked about Lyft keynoting, but they’re also going to be at the consumer show and they’re talking about how you can become a Lyft driver. There’s a company called Honk, which is an app for instant roadside assistance. Instead of calling a taxi, you’re calling a tow truck. Metromile is going to be on site. They are a company that enables put a device into your OED port to only pay insurance for the actual miles you drive. There’s a company called Luxe Valet that is also an app on your phone. If you’re living in a crowded area and you don’t have time to find parking far away, you hit this app and a magical valet appears and takes your car for you. When you’re ready to leave, hit the button and he brings it back. There’s another company called ZIRX where you’re going to a movie or you’re going shopping, you hit the app and someone comes to your car and fills it up with gas and washes it for you.”
What can folks expect at the charity preview night on Thursday, Nov. 19th?
“We’re working with the GRAMMY Museum Foundation again this year. It’s a great charity that helps arts education for children. A lot of the public schools are severely underfunded in arts education and the GRAMMY Museum Foundation really picks up the slack. We hope to have a really amazing event with great food, and drinks and entertainment. It’s a smaller crowd where you can see the cars in a relaxed environment. All of the money goes to a charity so it’s a good cause. You can feel good about that. It will be a fun night.”
With the whole Farmer’s Field plan being tabled, what can you tell us about a convention center expansion?
“We’re really excited about that. I’ve seen the plans for this expansion. It looks amazing. It’s going to bring the L.A. Convention Center up to a true world-class space. It will be about a million square feet. They’re building a new hotel that’s adjacent to it. Without the stadium going in, they’re moving forward rapidly with a full convention center expansion plan. The groundbreaking could happen as early as this summer. It’s supposed to be done by 2019.”
As vice president of marketing and communication, what do you enjoy most about your job?
“I really love it when it gets to the actual auto show. I love it when the industry comes into town. I like to see all of the news and excitement around the auto industry. It’s so healthy. But what really drives the auto industry is the consumer and people who just love cars. I love to walk the halls when it’s open to the public and talk to regular car enthusiasts. Talk about our dream cars that we want or how great it would be to take the next family trip in some great custom van down in our aftermarket hall. It’s really hanging out with other fans of cars and chatting about what’s coming, the changes that are taking place and what’s cool to just really being an enthusiast myself at the show.”
For tickets and more information about the 2015 L.A. Auto Show, visit www.laautoshow.com.
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