Here's why the Los Angeles auto show is good for car buyers: everyone wants to be here to show off their wares. The almost perpetual sunshine of southern California is quite a pull for denizens of Detroit or New Jersey, where so many European car companies have their North American bases, but that's the least of it.
There are always some world premieres happening at the L.A. show, so the public can get to see many of their future cars well in advance. And not just the exotic stuff, like the Bentley Continental GTC or distinctly un-mass-market things like the Honda Fit electric vehicle. Or, indeed, the plain weird, such as the Dok-Ing mini luxury three-seater electric car from Croatia that puts the driver in the middle.
The 2011 Los Angeles event sees new generations of cars that many people really plan on buying, especially compact crossovers like the 2012 Ford Escape and the 2012 Honda CR-V. And since there are quite a few well-heeled folk out on the left coast, it makes sense to introduce accessible luxury vehicles like the all-new 2012 Infiniti JX crossover and the 2012 Lexus GS executive sedan.
Speaking of rich people, there are some marques whose clientele are centered around the swisher parts of L.A., but don't take the city's car show so seriously. Ferrari, we're looking at you. The Prancing Horse hasn't set up a stable for a few years running. Lamborghini sometimes has a presence, or will occasionally make a launch deeper in Hollywood proper when it suits. Aston Martin has another on-again/off-again relationship with the show.
Which is a big mistake for all three concerned, even if they can pre-sell every car they make. Because southern California is an important market worth wooing.
At Jaguar's press conference, the company's global brand director, Adrian Hallmark, referred to Californian buyers influencing not just the whole country, but automotive tastes around the world. Porsche thinks of the Golden State as "a second home" for its 911, recognizing it as the largest sports car market in the world. Bentley sells half its convertibles in SoCal. And Audi admires the Californian belief that "technology can overcome challenges." More fool Ferrari if show-goers fall in love with an Audi R8 supercar instead.
Rich kids, early adopters of new technology, waiters who are only doing the job because they're actors, TV executives, hipsters, families with adopted kids from Ulan Bator and even regular people - they all live in and around Los Angeles. Because of this place's peculiar confluence of topography and freeways, they all need cars. And they can find the latest ones at the 2011 Los Angeles auto show.
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