The epicenter of the automotive world is Los Angeles, and it's time to come right out and say it. It's true that the auto shows in Detroit, Frankfurt and Tokyo celebrate the car with prodigiously elaborate dreams of automotive possibility, yet the Los Angeles auto show is the place where the dreams must come to earth.
Los Angeles is the place where cars are driven, the city where the most diverse collection of automobiles on the planet are actually used every day. Los Angeles is the place where the car is appreciated for the full range of its personality--utility, performance and beauty. Detroit, Frankfurt and Tokyo build cars, but Los Angeles buys cars. Detroit, Frankfurt and Tokyo propose, while Los Angeles decides.
The scale of L.A.'s role in the automotive industry deserves some recognition, too. The metropolitan area is the home to the U.S. headquarters of no less than fifteen different brands, not to mention the location of nearly twenty design studios from car manufacturers all around the world. Jim Press, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, recently noted, If you think of Detroit as the heart of the auto industry, then Los Angeles has become its soul.
The L.A. auto show takes place January 7-16, and this timing makes the event a disadvantaged stepchild when it comes to the presence of important new concept cars. Bentley, however, has been brave enough to acknowledge L.A. as a market of far more importance to it than Detroit, and will consequently unveil a secret concept car at the show. Lots of other concept cars will be on display to bring some life to the manufacturer stands, but most have already appeared elsewhere. Nevertheless, L.A. presents an opportunity to see these concepts up close and personal, and it's interesting to note that some dreams lose their luster once the hype has had a year to wear off.
The Greater Los Angeles Auto Show takes place January 7-16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Some 760,000 square feet of modern, well-lit exhibition space contains more than 1000 vehicles, plus a special floor devoted to the automotive aftermarket. For tickets, parking and information, contact: 310-444-1850, www.laautoshow.com.