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.
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.
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.
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!
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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...
more information on the Los Angeles Auto Show, visit www.laautoshow.com.
BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com
of visitors at the Ford display (the largest crowd of any automaker
based on my observations).