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WATCH: Interviews with attendees at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

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2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

Saturday, 3 December, 2011 9:43 PM

SoCal residents willing to give Big Three automakers another chance

Wrap-up of the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show


Hundreds of people checking out the Fiat display at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show. (Fiat owns a 53.5 percent stake in Chrysler).


by Jason Rzucidlo



LOS ANGELES -- As a native Detroiter, I was surprised by how few American automobiles were on the roads when I visited southern California (SoCal) for the first time in June 2007. I would say the number of cars made by the Big Three automakers (GM, Ford and Chrysler) were about one out of every five. Fast forward four years to the present day in 2011 and the three automakers have recovered. Their quality is up and sales are breaking records month after month. Now, I would say that one out of every three cars on the road in SoCal was manufactured by one of the Big Three.

I covered the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show during the press days (Nov. 16 and 17). However, I wanted to know what the locals were thinking so I also attended during two of the public days (Nov. 18 - 27). Based on my observations, Ford had the largest number of visitors checking out their vehicles out of all the automakers at the show. Fiat, which owns 53.5 percent of Chrysler, was a close second and GM's Cadillac and Chevrolet displays were not far behind.

SoCal has always been a region that relies very heavily on the single passenger automobile. It is been one of the hardest markets for the Big Three to sell their cars. All of the foreign automakers like Honda, Toyota, etc. have their U.S. headquarters located in or near Los Angeles. It is safe to say that residents think they are buying local because those companies have their offices just down the street. However, most of those vehicles are still being manufactured overseas.

I purposely spoke to auto show visitors who were looking at automobiles in the Ford, Fiat and Chevrolet areas. I asked what they thought the hits and misses were at the show. Also, have they ever owned a GM, Ford or Chrysler vehicle? Would they consider buying one today? Let's just say Detroit is back!

"This is my first time at the L.A. Auto Show," said Sonia Reback of Venice, Calif. "It's a lot of fun, I mean we've only been to a couple of different places so far. We're having a good time. We particularly like this one [Fiat]. We're just checking them out. I like the Honda because I love Honda and we like the Fiats a lot because they are super cute. I like that it's small and I like small cars. But it's a little different from the MINI Cooper. It just has its own style to it. I really like Fiats as well."

Official attendance figures for 2011 have not yet been released. However, the attendance is said to be higher and the number of international media also rose by 51 percent. Each of the two days that I attended, the convention center was packed with people shoulder to shoulder of one another.

"It is my first time here also," said Alex Reback from Madison, Wis. "There are plenty of exhibits, it's exciting. I like the Fiat 500, it's cool. Yeah, we just got here."

The Buick LaCrosse GL concept, Cadillac Ciel, Ford Fiesta ST and the Subaru BRZ Concept STI were among the major debuts at the auto show this year. Other big reveals include the BMW i3, BMW i8, Jaguar C-X16, Kia GT, Land Rover DC100, Volkswagen Beetle R concept and the Volvo Concept You.

"I come every year for the past four years," said Eric Stevenson of Orange County, Calif. "I really like the Porsches, that's why I came. It was the first thing I saw. I'm very impressed. I also like the Mitsubishi [Lancer] Evolution. I'm about halfway through the show, still going. I think the Fiat cars are pretty small and I think they are from Italy. They're also underpowered. I think everybody's had a good showing. The L.A. Auto Show is always very impressive. Everybody looks to put their best foot forward. Go Porsche. I'll be coming back for another year."

L.A. Galaxy players Leonardo and Sean Alvarado, Team Hot Wheels Driver Tanner Foust and professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek made special appearances during the show's public days. Other special guests included NHRA driver Alexis Dejoria, NHRA driver Del Worsham, L.A. Clippers player Blake Griffin, former NFL running back Eric Dickerson, L.A. Angels pitcher Dan Haren, LPGA star Michelle Wie, off road driver Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and the L.A. Laker Girls cheerleading squad.

"We've been here many, many times, I've lost count," said Ed Longo from Temecula, Calif. "I'm enjoying it this year, I do every year, though. I can't get over the improvement in the Ford products, enormous improvement. I really like them all. We're checking them out, although in my daughter's case, she will buy in six months from now. There are some specific models that we've looked at. Yes, we've bought Fords in the past. I've had four or five of them over the years: a Mustang, Expedition. In fact, several Mustangs. I think Hyundai has done a very good job. Their cars have improved dramatically. Ford has done a marvelous job. They are beautiful in design. More leading edge it would be Hyundai and Ford. With BMW, we expect that."

His daughter, Catherine Longo of Aliso Viejo, Calif., added: "Same here, I've been here five or six times. I liked looking at the Fords also. The Escape, they transformed it. It's completely different. Yeah, it's very nice. Yeah, I'm looking to buy in about six months. I like the Escape, the GTI from Volkswagen and more of the Audi models too. I want to look at the KIA Sportage. I've never had a Ford, but I would definitely look to buy one. I had a rental, a Ford Edge, and I loved it."

Classic cars, custom cars and accessories were featured in Kentia Hall, otherwise known as the basement of the L.A. Convention Center. This included tuners, ways to add performance to your vehicle, new wheels, tires and suspensions. DUB Magazine's Celebrity Car Showcase was also shown in that area.

"I've been coming for four or five years," said Trevor Wimmer from Vista, Calif. "I love coming, it's my favorite thing to do every year. I look forward to it all year round. Being able to walk around and look at the different models without being hassled by sales people, that's my favorite part actually. I am actually in the market. I'm comparing all of the different models. I like the new [Hyundai] Accent, I like the Mazda2 and I like the [Ford] Fiesta. I have not bought a Ford before. Until the Fiesta came out, there wasn't a Ford I was particularly interested in. Lincoln and Buick are still kind of old looking. There are other companies that are doing a good job modernizing."

Vehicle test drives were expanded for the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. More choices were offered for auto show visitors to choose from. Attendees were able to take these automobiles on the road. Ford offered five vehicles including its 2012 Taurus SHO while Toyota offered seven automobiles including its Prius Plug-In Hybrid. Cadillac offered seven vehicles including its CTS-V sedan while Chevrolet offered eight automobiles including its new Sonic. Chrysler offered eight vehicles including its FIAT 500 while Hyundai offered seven automobiles including its Sonata Hybrid. KIA offered four vehicles including its Optima Hybrid while Mitsubishi offered one choice, its new i electric vehicle.

"I've been here four or five times," said Andre Moye of Riverside, Calif. "It's pretty good so far. I really like the new Corvettes. I'm just here to look right now. I've never bought a Chevy. Their cars are a lot nicer now. The new BMW M5 is my favorite car here today. Infiniti is real disappointing this year. All of their cars are looking bland and their designs are terrible."

The set-up of the auto show was easy to navigate. New vehicles were located in the South and West halls while Porsche had the Petree Hall to itself. Kentia Hall housed the classic cars and accessories. Test drives were all outside.

There is a long walkway that runs between the South and West halls. With the strong possibility of the new Farmer's Field football stadium being built next to the Staples Center, chances are high that the West Hall would have to be demolished. If that happens, the South Hall would be expanded so that all new vehicles would be able to fit inside it. The future is bright for the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show...

For more information on the Los Angeles Auto Show, visit



Thousands of visitors at the Ford display (the largest crowd of any automaker based on my observations).



About a hundred people looking at the Chevrolet display.


[ Click here for more coverage of the Los Angeles Auto Show ]

Visit the official website of the Los Angeles Auto Show


The Los Angeles Auto Show has the rare distinction of being recognized by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles (OICA), one of only two in the U.S.




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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.