Los Angeles, California – The mood at this year's L.A. Show is as sombre as the brownish smog covering the L.A. basin this week.
Between every presentation, the quiet conversation among the media and industry types isn’t the usual banter of “What’s the coolest car?” or “Can you believe they’ll ever actually make that thing?”
Minds are all on The Three Amigos in Washington, D.C. this week, and the repercussions if one of the Detroit Three go down.
The fuel stacks that where mounted amidships in the Clarity have been pushed to the rear. And regardless of its quasi-Lamborghini Gallardo looks, trust me, this is a pure concept, and not the next NSX super car that’s due for Detroit in January.
11:50 a.m. - Ford – Like Nissan, Ford is offering both mean and green here in L.A.
In response to upstart American muscle cars from Dodge (Challenger) and The General (next spring’s Camaro), Ford has refreshed its five-year-old Mustang.
The highlights include a new, more luxurious interior that removes it from the Toys R Us bin, and larger wheels, retuned suspension and increased horsepower that Ford says was “developed from engineering experience on the race track and from special editions including the Mustang Bullitt.”
More important to Ford’s bottom-line is the new Fusion family sedan. Also updated inside and out for 2010, it gets a gas-electric hybrid option for the first time. And Ford expects its green Fusion Hybrid to get better fuel economy than the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 5.7L/100 km. No really.
1: 55 p.m. Hyundai – The Korean automaker brought to L.A. its HED-5 i-Mode six-passenger crossover concept it first showed in Geneva last spring.
But this time, under its hood is the world debut of a new turbocharged gasoline 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine with direct injection that Hyundai promises 15-20 per cent fuel economy increase compared with a standard 2.0L four-banger. Dubbed Theta Turbo GDI, expect the new engine in a Hyundai is some kind by 2010. And apparently, a production version of the crossover has been “green lighted.”
We had expected to see a Sonata Hybrid concept here on the west coast. But instead Hyundai just showed a mockup of its drivetrain, called Hybrid Blue Drive. It combines a 30 kW / 151 lb-ft motor/generator into a six-speed automatic transmission (kind of like the GM/BMW/Daimler two-mode system) and is expected in the next gen Sonata in 2010.
Er, that’s it for the important stuff. Sure. There were a trio of new convertibles from Infiniti, Bentley and Lamborghini. But more importantly, I’m off to drive the new electric Mini…