by Alain Gayot
Which car would you buy today? That is becoming an ever more difficult question to answer. For sure, the current trend is small and fuel efficient automobiles. One could go with a Scion tc for something zippy but small enough and easy to drive.
But I think that hybrids are simply a stepping stone technology. The demand and resources to produce a hybrid car today are too taxing on the planet. For example, you have to extract a lot of toxic materials to produce the batteries and find a way to store them at the end of their life.
Take the Honda CNG, for example. It is a really cool car that runs on Compressed Natural Gas. You can plug it in at home, it doesn’t pollute very much and owners can get money back from the government (while it lasts). You also get to ride in the carpool lane by yourself and park for free at any meter.
What I saw today at the LA Auto Show seems to reflect stagnation in the auto industry. What will happen to Chrysler, proud of their gas guzzling Challenger? Or Ford, showcasing a cool new muscle car: the 2010 Mustang. Of course we can’t forget poor old GM. From them comes the promise of the Volt, an electric car, still a year away.
But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Dodge exhibited an EV concept, and EcoDriving USA offered free rides and a multitude of fuel efficient models. Kia introduced the Soul, a small, monospace side-by-side electric vehicle based on the Borrego platform. Next to their new top-of-the line Genesis, Hyundai displayed a glorious concept- a wooden floor- in the iMode.
The show always presents a good opportunity to stare at the ostentatious Rolls Royces, the luxurious Bentleys and the ultra-sexy Aston Martins. But there were some other great finds in the forgotten nooks and crannies, such as a Brabus version of the Mercedes-Benz and a Gumpert Apollo supercar. I also loved the rather aggressive-looking Mazda 3, which is currently available and somewhat economical. But most of all, I could not take my eyes off of a gorgeous Buick Riviera concept.
Check back later for our full coverage of the LA Auto Show.