► Los Angeles auto show 2022 review
► All the key cars from LA motor show
► Detailed analysis of what it all means
You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a wholesome, outdoorsy vibe at this year’s Los Angeles motor show – manufacturers installing makeshift football pitches and sports grounds, gnarly off-road mountains and bucolic forest trails to bring some lifestyle chic to the the dreary downtown LA Convention Center.
Superficial stunts? Or a clever way to connect the vehicles on show with a more positive, human vibe? Volkswagen’s stand was littered with soccer goals to celebrate its sponsorship of the upcoming FIFA World Cup and Toyota had turned half its floorspace into a huge sports complex to celebrate its Olympic involvement, complete with wheelchair basketball, trampolines and even – most baffling of all – a curling arena.
Athletic greenwashing? Almost certainly. Awkward juxtapositions abounded, as the metal on show teetered between two camps: the healthy fresh mountain air of the low-emissions brigade (Subaru paraded its hybrids and updated Impreza in an uncannily rural recreation of a National Park, below) versus the smoggy belch of giant trucks lumbering around the ancien régime’s steel edifices to off-roading (Ram trucks showcasing their go-anywhere pluck and towing creds).
It was a stark reminder of an industry in transition. The 2022 LA motor show was hardly awash with genuinely new metal and you could count the number of world debuts that mattered to us Europeans on the fingers of one hand.
Highlights of the 2022 Los Angeles motor show
Toyota probably stole the show, with its graceful new Prius bringing aesthetic elegance to its clever-clogs hybrid tech stack. A shame, then, that the UK importer is dropping the Prius from its range altogether in 2023, owing to poor sales and the fact that Brits now prefer a more conventional, but also hybridised, crossover, hatchback or estate.
Just 563 Priuses were registered here in 2021, compared with 18,000 C-HR SUVs. Go figure.
Props also to the bZ Compact SUV, a second world debut from Toyota at a show bereft of much that was all-new. This slick-looking crossover shows that the Japanese car maker is readying a raft of EVs to make up for its tardy arrival in the battery electric vehicle (BEV) scene. Neatly styled, its most eye-catching detail was perhaps curved infotainment screens like those on folding Galaxy smartphones (see above).
The big clicker on CAR’s website was the Porsche 911 Dakar – a madcap idea that prove the Germans do have a sense of humour (as well as an eye for a commercial opportunity). We note that Porsche today lists 26 different 911 derivatives on its UK website…
The way Zuffenhausen manages its portfolio with endless derivatives continues to impress – this rally-raid sports car only exists because of the margins commanded by the Porsche premium.
Charging £173k for a Dakar almost seems like good value for one of 2500 of this go-anywhere supercar. It’ll fund the next range extension, you’d imagine. It’s a virtuous circle.
It was perhaps the most extreme lifestyle statement at the 2022 LA show. Will customers really drive their Dakar across the desert? I suspect it’ll be seen at Glyndebourne more than the Gobi.
Porsche CEO Oliver Blume (above) told me to expect more lifestyle affectations in the pipeline – it was no coincidence that Porsche took a bunch of overseas journalists roof-top camping in its Taycan tents on the eve of the show. We suspect this won’t be the last we’ve heard of more rugged, outdoorsy 911s…
Whither the premium brands?
The big three German premium brands – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – all swerved the 2022 LA auto show, which was telling. No sign, either, of Jaguar Land Rover (which ousted its CEO Thierry Bolloré on the eve of the show, a casualty of the chip shortage and ongoing losses).
Their absence provided clear water for nouveau brands to strut their stuff – none more elegantly than the Genesis X Convertible; a sign that the rampant South Koreans are one of the hottest properties in the automotive firmament right now. Parent company Hyundai’s Vision 74 concept (above) was just as remarkable.
Others notable by their absence were the Italian supercar brands, clearing the way for the madcap Hyperion supercar, a hydrogen powered beast that was strangely promoted with spacemen peppering its stand (below).
Vapourware? Time will tell.
Next door, Mazda and Volvo were represented by local dealer group Galpin, as was neighbouring Polestar, which didn’t bother bringing its box-fresh 3 electric SUV, either. An inevitability considering the lack of factory support, but a shame nonetheless.
I bumped into CAR’s long-time contributor and former editor Gavin Green on the Swedes’ stand and both of us were whizzing around the show in record time. We left feeling this was an event bereft of the world debuts that motor shows need to survive, let alone thrive.
Supersized trucks vs the new world order
For every progressive electrified car, there were probably two dinosaurs. The contrast between EV and truck was most acute in the west hall: the Stellantis stand bore a brace of diminutive Fiat 500 electrics (below) dwarfed by the gigantic Ram pick-ups, Jeep 4x4s and neighbouring Ford trucks that thundered over off-road obstacles and showcased their towing ability.
It was old Americana versus new, Trump vs Biden, petrol vs purity. The US is not alone in navigating the carbon challenge that’s reshaping the whole motoring universe. But it seems more acute here in Tinseltown, one of the world’s most overtly consumerist cities.
London and many other urban centres are equally full of contrasts, but the gap between the thundering V8s and trucks of Los Angeles freeways and the electric Lime scooters and whispering Teslas pounding the downtown streets is emblematic of the changes gripping the automotive industry.
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Change is afoot, but LA 2022 felt like some quarters of the industry are holding on to the past more than others.
Read on for a full A-Z list of the LA auto show
All the new cars at the LA motor show
► Los Angeles Auto Show preview guide
► All the new cars at the LA motor show
► A-Z guide, quick links to full stories
The LA Auto Show is in full swing at the downtown LA Convention Center and this is the West Coast’s big show, drawing attention from car makers around the world keen to tap into the Californian market.
CAR magazine is reporting live from the show floor in 2022 and you can check out all the key cars in our listings below, with detailed reports at the links below. This handy A-Z preview guide rounds up the key new cars at the LA motor show 2022 – although the number of premieres has shrunk significantly from the 65 debuts promised by the organisers in pre-pandemic times.
Be sure to click the links below to read the full story on each debutant.
The new cars that matter at the 2022 LA auto show: an A-Z preview guide
Charge ’67 (above) A limited run of 499 Ford Mustang electric restomods – made by British outfit Charge Cars
500 Italians’ baby due to make some waves in the US; more news as we get it
X Convertible concept car New electric cabrio stars on the Genesis stand
GV70 Electrified version makes its US debut at the 2022 LA show
XP-1 (below) Radical hydrogen-electric supercar with a claimed 2000bhp. Hold on tight!
Ioniq 6 North American debut for the Korean streamliner EV sedan
Seltos Sub-compact SUV bows in at Los Angeles. More details soon
RX Latest version of the US smash-hit RX due in California for its show debut
Air Pure and Touring Cheaper entry models of the Lucid due to launch in LA
911 Dakar (above) Yes, they’re really taking the venerable 911 off road again…
Impreza First full look at the next-gen Impreza, a big deal here in the States
Prius (below) World debut for the original hybrid pioneer – but this one’s not coming to UK
bZ Compact SUV New, all-electric model points to next iteration of bZ electric car range
VF8 and VF9 Vietnamese car maker lands in America with a fulsome range of cars
Practical information about the Los Angeles motor show 2022
Where is the LA auto show held? Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015, USA
When is the LA motor show? 18-27 November 2022
Opening times and hours: Doors open at 9am most days, close between 4pm-10pm (exact timetable here)
How much are Los Angeles motor show 2022 tickets? Adult Any Day tickets from $22 in advance, pensioner tickets from $12, children aged 6-12 cost $6
LA auto show official website: https://laautoshow.com