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.

Chrysler blog The driver said she had been doing the run to the show in 2006 and the bus was chock full most of the day.

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.