LA Show offered fuel cells, power-packed vehicles & even a video game car


The Los Angeles Auto Show closed Sunday, continuing its influence as a showcase for energy-efficient and alternative-energy vehicles. Green Car Journal announced the annual winner of the Green Car of the Year Award in LA – this year’s award went to the quirky BMW i3 electric city car. But there were more than 1,000 new vehicles at the show, including introductions and concepts in all size and power categories.

Perhaps the most outrageous energy-efficient concept displayed was Chevrolet’s Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo, a vehicle that won’t be produced – ever – since it’s just the embodiment of a video game car. Theoretically it has a laser-beamed energy-propulsion system that generates 900 hp, and seemingly it could soar from zero-60 mph in 1.5 seconds. Sure looked sexy, though!

Volkswagen joins Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Nissan in the quest to produce a zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCV), showing its Golf HyMotion SportWagen that uses fuel cells to power a 134-hp electric motor with a 310-mile range – more than triple the range of its eGolf.

Toyota displayed the Mirai FCV, which it plans to sell in the US beginning next year. It has a range of about 300 miles and will be priced at $57,500 before tax credits. In a twist, Toyota says it could be used as a backup home power generator. There’s no viable hydrogen infrastructure in place yet but California is building fueling stations and eventually FCVs could be reasonable possibilities. On the high end, Audi’s A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro delivers a 31-mile electric range and a 310-mile fuel-cell range with 230 hp and sprinting power of zero-60 in 7.8 seconds.

There were electric vehicles large and small. Mercedes’ S550 Plug-in hybrid wowed with 436-hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, an amazing estimated 84 mpg and an all-electric range of 20 miles. For great range, the Mullen 700e introduced in LA offers 180 miles, 134 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Mitsubishi’s XR Plug-in Hybrid crossover concept promises a 50-mile range. Not available yet in the U.S., it’s been selling well in Europe and Asia.

Three small crossovers earned buzz. Honda introduced the 2016 HR-V, built on the Fit platform featuring the same kind of flexible interior the Fit is famous for, 138 hp, manual or continuously variable transmission and optional AWD. Critics raved about Mazda’s CX-3 crossover, packed with Skyactiv engineering features, a 2.0-liter, 155-hp engine, AWD option and gorgeous sheetmetal. Fiat answered with the five-seat 2016 500X with two engine choices and an AWD option.

Buyers will be interested in some of LA’s high-powered offerings now that gas prices are trending down. Two generating enthusiasm were the Cadillac ATS-V and the Mustang Shelby GT350. The ATS-V with twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V6, generating 455 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque, zips from zero-60 under four seconds with a top speed of 185 mph. The Shelby packs a 5.2-liter V-8 dishing out 500+ hp and 400 lb-ft of torque that will do zero-60 under four seconds with a 175-mph top speed. Audi showed off its Prologue concept, sporting four screens on the dash and powered by a 605-hp V-8 with a zero-60 time of just 3.7 seconds and eye-catching design.

For buyers wanting speed in a utility vehicle package, BMW offered the X5 M and X6 M with twin-turbo engines pumping out 567 hp, 553 lb-ft of torque and doing zero-60 in 4.0 seconds. They’re priced around $100k.

For even deeper pockets, LA spotlighted the $250k Mercedes-Maybach S600 with 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque that will do zero-60 in 4.5 seconds and comes equipped with champagne flutes and a mini-fridge. Wealthy buyers looking for a “family car,” may want the Porsche Panamera “Exclusive,” (only 100 produced) that resembles a station wagon. The $264,000 price tag makes it anything but an average family vehicle.

All eyes will be on Detroit next month where even more automotive innovation will be on display at the annual North American International Auto Show, hashtag #NAIAS.


About timwjackson

Working every day for a better Colorado.
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