Connected Cars

AutoMobility LA 2017: Vehicle Upstarts (Day 4)

Dec 12, 2017

Part Four of our four-part series recapping the summit’s four days of exhibits, announcements and interactivity

vehicle upstarts are center stage in Day 4

Day 4 of AutoMobility features alternatives to the car

As AutoMobility LA ended, the Los Angeles Auto Show prepared to begin. With that transition came some interesting vehicle upstarts — smaller car maker reveals and first time exhibitors, most of whom offered alternative fuels, specialty automobiles and various takes on the electric bicycle. It also brought about the last of the big car company announcements and a chance for summit attendees to browse the various exhibits at their leisure.

One of the iconic vehicle upstarts kicks off the green revolution

one of the iconic vehicle upstarts shows off alt fuel

Toyota’s Tri-Gen facility overview and hydrogen burning semi

The first of the vehicle upstarts was one of the largest automakers — Toyota. The Japanese car company was the featured vehicle maker of the last morning of AutoMobility LA and presented its innovative future vision in a big way. Toyota has made no secret about its belief that hydrogen fuel cell technology is the wave of the future. They recently deployed a fully functional Class A semi-truck that towed 80,000 pounds of freight only powered by hydrogen, which has just started being used throughout the Los Angeles area. The legendary company proved it maintains its position as one of the most storied vehicle upstarts with the announcement. It also enhanced to its role as an innovator with alternative fuels by revealing it is also opening a new facility in Long Beach, California, called Tri-Gen, which will be the first megawatt sized carbon fuel-cell power generation plant with hydrogen fuel in the world. It will use California agricultural waste, hydrogen and water to generate electricity. It will be able to generate enough power to light up 350 average sized homes and renew the fuel cells of 1500 vehicles.

This announcement was soon followed by the awarding of the 2018 Green Car of the Year sponsored by Green Car Journal. The finalists were:

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Clarity
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Camry

The Honda Clarity — arriving at dealerships nationwide on December 1st — earned the top spot. Other awards for 2018 Green SUV of the Year, 2018 Green Connected Car of the Year and 2018 Green Luxury Car of the Year will be announced at the Washington Auto Show in January.

Nissan channels the Force

vehicle upstarts like Nissan create experiences

Imperial Storm Troopers guard Nissan’s reveal

Another of the iconic vehicle upstarts, Nissan, expanded on its relationship with the galaxy far, far away. Although the auto giant announced its partnership with the Star Wars franchise the day before, this was a day when the carmaker was able to share more about the collaboration. With the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi releasing in theaters on December 15th, Nissan has committed to creating immersive experiences of VR and AR in various dealerships around the country that take customers into the Star Wars universe while in the showroom. To heighten this, the company brought out stormtroopers and a souped up Nissan Titan that incorporated the features of the Imperial Walkers.

vehicle upstarts go all in for effect

Nissan Titan gets an Imperial walker makeover

The new guard, customization and retro cool

the vehicle upstarts show off their wares

The final day of the summit included smaller vehicle companies presenting unique options in the automotive and transportation space. These intriguing vehicle upstarts included:

  • Reds from Redspace, a fully electric prototype built to deal with the issues of the Megacities of China like
  • Polaris Slingshot, which introduced a new class of vehicle called the autocycle that offers all the benefits of a motorcycle without requiring a motorcycle license and was demo’d by NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace
  • Saleen, a boutique carmaker with 30 years under his belt introducing two new high-powered, luxury class sports cars
  • Sondors, an electric 3-seater inspired by a walk along the beach to be offered at a cost of only $10,000 and in the midst of seeking funding through crowdsourcing
  • Ampere, the 2-seater electric vehicle going for $9,900
  • Electric bicycles/scooters ranging from foldable (URB-E) to sleek (Propella) to retro-styling (Phantom Bikes)

It was also a time to indulge in a walk through The Garage, a place to show off all things customized and aftermarket, and the Galpin Auto Sports’ exhibit promoting its customization prowess. These two areas were a reminder of the power of the car and how much it still energizes, inspires and draws us.

vehicle upstarts keep customization alive

Galpin Auto Works and The Garage show off customization

vehicle upstarts pump up nostalgia

A tricked-out Mach IV from Galpin Auto Works

The last day was a seamless melding of the old and the new, proof that being one of the vehicle upstarts is more the rule than the exception as all were reminded of the auto revolution that’s no longer coming, but here. Even as things move forward, those things that are held dear by the old guard are influencing the new, and are finding ways to utilize the world of autonomy and alternative fuels to their benefit rather than let it throw them off their games.

A bridge from the past to the future

the old and the new of vehicle upstarts

Clockwise from top left: Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Exhibit; Subaru 50th Anniversary timeline; Honda NeuV concept – utilizes AI and the “emotion engine” to detect and learn from drivers’ emotions and past decisions to suggest reactions to road conditions; Toyota 2018 FV2 concept — like the Honda NeuV, uses AI to detect driver’s emotions and assist in reactions based on past operator performance

AutoMobility made it clear that the goal in automotive revolution is not just to prepare us all for the inevitability of pure autonomous driving, hydrogen/electric cars, and fleets of rideshares that make our own vehicles obsolete. It also acknowledges that the love of the automobile as we know it is not only not going away anytime soon, but could very well keep growing.

the old guard proving they're still vehicle upstarts

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan — America’s first; Volkswagen Buzz concept

Such stalwarts as the Chrysler Pacifica mini-van entering the 21st century by offering the first hybrid in its class for 2018, and the Volkswagen Buzz, an electric microbus version of the beloved VW Minibus slated for a 2022 release, prove that this bridging of yesterday and today are taking place to exciting results. The car appears to be here to stay, and AutoMobility LA shows that by embracing the revolution at hand and the unique players who are entering it as never before, the auto industry has an opportunity to become much stronger in the long run.


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