As I clambered onto the hotel shuttle coach, which was heading for the 2008 LA autoshow, I was surprised to find I was the only hack on there.
When we arrived at the LA Convention Centre entrance looked deserted and the queue for media accreditation was minimal.
In the two exhibition halls, the mood was either subdued or funereal. But then, when the heads of the domestic US industry are on the other side of the country trying to beg and borrow the money to stay alive, that’s understandable.
However, there were two notable exceptions. Both VW and Audi had large, very brightly lit stands. And for a favoured few, they were also doling out high-end food such as Octopus salad and handmade Ravioli.
Directly opposite the two Germans was the Chrysler Group ‘show stand’. In fact, it was made up of a large area of carpet covered in parked-up Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps. With just a couple of actual exhibition stands, it all looked terrible.
But incredibly, this corner of the exhibition also completely lacked any lighting. Chrysler’s cars sat in the gloom, relived only by a few ceiling lights, while a few feet away the Audi stand shone brightly.
The state of the company was probably best brought home by the deserted ‘information’ stand, which was bereft of both information and Chrysler staff.
It was a rather haunting image of a US car industry that might have already entered its death throes.