Welcome to Autocar's extended coverage of the 2019 Los Angeles motor show, one of the last major shows of this year's automotive calendar.
As ever, it is a uniquely Californian show that plays home to a varied mix of SUVs, V8s and electric cars. Manufacturers including Audi, Ford and Volkswagen are all in attendance, with major announcements expected throughout the week. Some brands even jumped the gun, revealing all ahead of the show floor opening to the industry.
We were on the ground in LA to bring you all the news as it breaks from the show, as as well as providing insight and comment from industry figures, and first drives of some of the biggest new launches.
LA 2019: show report
Wheeled vastness, electric vehicles and fast-breeding mid-size SUVs were the most visible exhibits at an LA show marked by the welcome arrival of heavy rain and hail to a parched California. Whether this sudden shift was merely weather or a symptom of climate change, there were certainly signs of fundamental change at the show, where the electric Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s surprisingly potent – and fairly pricey, at £40,000 upwards – Tesla fighter. VW’s ID Space Vizzion concept, the E-tron Sportback that makes Audi the first premium player to introduce a second EV, the new-to-America electric Mini and numerous plug-in hybrids will all be able to take advantage of the fact that California’s solar and wind power quite regularly generates surplus electricity in need of a home.
Yet the industry’s growing battle to introduce affordable electric models was overshadowed, literally, by the bombastic trucks littering much of the Chevrolet stand, a spectacular ultra-high-riding, highly modified Ford F250 pick-up in the main entrance foyer and any number of medium to large SUVs. Not all of them from US manufacturers either, Mercedes unveiling AMG versions of its GLE and GLS, Audi its potent RS Q8, Toyota a new Highlander SUV of a size unremarkable in an American context, Land Rover its Defender and Kia its not-for-Europe Seltos. The almost absurd contradiction in all this can be hard to explain, but to understand the big trucks follow the money – these beasts are highly profitable US best-sellers – while the EU’s CO2 squeeze, China’s commitment to EVs and Tesla’s sales success explains the heavy peppering of battery-powered cars at this show.
Which also explains the strange avenues some manufacturers are travelling in an effort to clean up the car and maintain its appeal. Who would have thought that there would one day be a five-door Mustang SUV punching out as much as 459 electric horsepower, or that BMW would have hired a couple of musicians to devise soundtracks for its EVs, or that it would be harvesting methane from a US dairy farm to produce electricity? VW, meanwhile, will plant 1000 trees to compensate for the 1000 miles that its Atlas Cross Sport R will travel in the Baja 1000 off-road race and Subaru, which had turned its stand into a virtual slice of US National Park, would be planting no less than half a million trees to rebuild US forests destroyed by fire.
Even the unchanging is changing. There’s a new Mustang Shelby GT 500, but there’s now a Mustang EV. There’s a new Corvette, this the legendary sportscar’s first US show appearance, but its engine lies behind the driver rather than in front. On the other hand, some things really don’t change. Dodge celebrated 50 Challenger years with a very limited limited edition of 490 multi-hued cars, FCA’s policy of starving most of its brands of genuinely new product underlined by the sorry 300C saloon at the back of a Chrysler carpet park of ageing minivans and a modest Fiat stand deprived of its one-time mainstay 500, now deleted.