As a motoring journalist, I’m always intrigued to see the trends of motor shows – which companies choose to attend and not attend – and how that reflects the current industry mood.
Back in 2009, as we tried to climb out of economic depression, there was a notably sombre mood at the European motor shows. Now, things are more stable, but manufacturers are still making prudent decisions on where they choose to appear.
So, back to Jaguar, which chose an event with virtual reality and glossy celebrities two days before the press day of LA motor show, to showcase its shiny new all-electric model.
The manufacturer might say that the show just happened to fall at the correct time for the launch of the car (I’m still awaiting a comment), but a marked decision to launch it in California belies far more than that.
It's liberal California - probably the state most coherently opposed to Donald Trump - that pushes the electric (and hybrid) car agenda in the States. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was cruising around in a Toyota Prius in the Hollywood Hills long before alternatively fuelled vehicles were mainstream like they are today.
While Jaguar could have chosen to launch this on home turf without the backdrop of a motor show, it instead took it to the heartland of green motoring, where it no doubt expects to receive a lot, if not a majority, of sales. The fact that it’s on Tesla's doorstep is likely just an added benefit.
Volkswagen has also identified the LA motor show as its spot to introduce the updated electric e-Golf, which has significantly more range than before. No less than a week after the company launched its facelifted Golf range at its Wolfsburg plant in Germany, it has deemed LA the best place to show off the electric version, a placeholder until its range of all-electric vehicles is introduced, including the production version of the Golf-rivalling ID hatchback concept shown at Paris motor show in September.
LA isn’t just a place for launching EVs, though. Mazda’s second-generation CX-5 is making its debut here because its a key market for the brand, said a spokesman. That and the larger CX-9 lead Mazda’s charge in the States, and while the CX-9 is expected to be more popular, Americans are apparently wising up “to better fuel economy” so CX-5 sales are expected to grow.
So the appetite for SUVs continues. The much-anticipated Alfa Romeo Stelvio is launching here, which, in my mind, is an unexpected venue. That said, some of its sibling companies – Chrysler and Jeep – are American, so perhaps it isn’t so surprising after all.
There are, of course, plenty more manufacturers which haven’t chosen to launch global cars at the LA motor show, but that just makes Jaguar’s move even more shrewd. The launch of a seminal car, in a receptive market, in an uncrowded space? There’s no better PR move than that.