LA Auto Show returns with a huge focus on electrics; dozens of test drives

The Mullen Five electric car at the 2021 LA Auto Show. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Los Angeles — The 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show is back! After taking one year off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is the first major U.S. auto show to return with in-person attendees.

There is a huge focus on electric vehicles at this year’s auto show. Nearly every automaker showed off some sort of plug-in electric vehicle. There are also lots of hybrids and gas powered vehicles, as well.

Some of the big reveals included:

The 2023 Fisker Ocean electric SUV. The base Sport model offers 250 miles of charge at a price of $37,499 before incentives. The top of the line Extreme model offers 350 miles per charge with a cost of $68,999.

The 2023 Subaru Solterra electric off road SUV comes with a 215-horsepower, all wheel drive system promising 220 miles of range. The Solterra is the first pure electric vehicle to be offered by Subaru. It is based off of Toyota’s new bZ4X electric SUV. Both vehicles will be built at Toyota’s factory in Japan. Up until now, Toyota was best known for its hybrids and gas powered vehicles.

Meanwhile, Hyundai revealed its Seven concept SUV which serves as a preview of an upcoming electric SUV. It is a three-row SUV that is expected to achieve 300 miles of electric range. The rear is essentially one piece of glass.

Kia showed off it’s all new concept EV9. Since most automakers are looking to a zero emission future, the EV9’s design was inspired by water. Kia used recycled water bottles and wool fabrics to line the seats.

Nissan introduced the 2023 Ariya crossover EV. It will offer better electric range and charging power than the Nissan Leaf. Pricing starts at $45,950. The automaker also showed off a refreshed 2022 Rogue SUV.

Ford showed off its latest models including the new Mustang Mach-E. There was a huge line for test drives inside the Convention Center. The all new Ford F-150 Lighting battery electric truck is also displayed. The Bronco Experience is located just outside–a few steps from the Ford display.

Porsche debuted its all new Taycan GTS Gran Turismo electric car. It comes with a 93.4-kWh battery pack and two electric motors that produce 590 horsepower. Pricing starts at $134,650 for the new Taycan GTS Gran Turismo. Porsche has not had a booth at the Detroit Auto Show in several years so it was a treat seeing them.

Volkswagen does not have a traditional display inside the convention center. However, it is offering test drives of its latest models including the all new electric ID.4 outside at Gilbert Lindsay Plaza in front of the West Hall.

While some traditional automakers such as Cadillac, GMC and Buick decided the skip the LA Auto Show, new electric vehicle startups like Mullen fill that space. The Mullen Five is a U.S.-built electric crossover vehicle with an estimated range of 325 miles. It promises to offer Tesla Plaid level of acceleration.

Vinfast is a new Vietnamese automaker with their first ever display at the LA Auto Show. The VF e35 is a five passenger crossover SUV. It features an 85 kilowatt per hour battery with an expected range of 310 miles according to Automotive News. Meanwhile, the VF e36 is a three-row SUV. This model comes with a larger 96-kWh battery that should achieve 340 miles of range.

A large electric vehicle test track takes up part of the South Hall. It is sponsored by Electrify America. Attendees have the opportunity to drive or ride in the newest EVs including the Faraday Future FF91. Other EVs that can be test driven inside included those by Porsche, Mini, Hyundai and Kia.

There are dozens of test drive vehicles available outside as well. Those included Audi, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen. There is even a startup company called ElectraMeccanica with cute one person vehicles.

Car enthusiasts I spoke with said they were very happy to be back in person at the LA Auto Show since the event was not held in 2020.

“It’s pretty cool, we just got here, we haven’t seen too much,” said attendee Tara Tatem from San Dimas, Calif. “We’ve seen some pretty cool ones like the futuristic Lexus over there or the Ocean in the front.”

Her husband, Chris, added: “I like the Ocean and the concept of it. This Hyundai Seven is pretty nice too. It’s pretty neat. Electric seems to be moving forward.”

“It is my first time here, I’ve wanted to come for a couple of years now,” said attendee Nick Anderson from Hermosa Beach, Calif. “I finally got my friends out here today. I think it’s great. I’m stoked to see people out here. I’m a big car guy so it’s exciting to be here.”

Heather Stewart brought her daughter to the auto show all the way from Kansas City. “It’s really big, we’re really impressed with it. I like it a lot. The colors of the cars are cool. I came here hoping to see a lot of really great electrics and there are a lot of really great electrics. There’s a lot of brands I’ve never even heard of. It’s blowing my mind.”

For the first time ever, the LA Auto Show hosted the ZEVAS awards for zero emission vehicles. The awards were voted on by members of the public who submitted their votes online.

Even Barbie had her Hollywood moment! A new Barbie Extra car sits on a Fiat 500 chassis. It is a perfect photo opportunity for girls.

I also spotted the new Chevy Corvette Z06 which was last spotted at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. It drew big crowds at the LA Auto Show. The Chevrolet Bolt was not on display–likely due to the recall involving some fires. Attendees were able to make their own comic strips and boomerang videos at the Chevy display.

We can expect to see many more electric vehicle charging stations to be installed in the coming years. President Biden recently signed the infrastructure bill into law which includes $7.5 million for new EV chargers. About 90 percent of current EV owners charge their vehicles overnight so they are ready to go by morning.

While the auto show wasn’t like 2019 was, it sure was as close as possible. Attendees were required to wear masks and have their vaccine card or negative Covid test result checked at the entrance.

The 2021 LA Auto Show continues through Nov 28 and it will be open on thanksgiving day. For tickets and more info, visit www.LAautoshow.com.


–Video by Jason Rzucidlo / AmericaJR


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