VEVA member reports from the 2018 LA car show

(From VEVA member Peter Vella. Click any image for a larger version.)

Hello VEVA members

Dave Sandelands and I went down to Los Angeles for their annual car show. This is usually a premiere show for EVs due to California’s air quality legislation. My summation of the show depends on whether I think the glass is half empty or half full.

On the half empty side, there were no EVs from Ford. FIAT Chrysler only had the aging 500 EV, and Chevrolet hid two BOLTs behind a lot of pickup trucks. Mercedes did not bring the EQC and BMW did not bring their SUV either. Volkswagen is still talking. The long range Leaf is late due to the CEO of the company being in jail. Mazda is still putting all there eggs in the ICE basket and Honda did not bring their lovely EV concept cars. Toyota is still wed to hybrid technology.

On the half full side, Audi had the pre-production e-Tron on show. Jaguar had plenty of I-Paces and their Formula E racing car. The Korean car makers were there with three cars that are close to or already in production. They had the Hyundai Kona EV which is getting a lot of attention. They also had the Kia Niro EV and Kia Soul EV. Each of the Kia cars are cousins to the Kona (using an almost identical drive train) and being larger and smaller respectively compared to the Kona. The Soul is very practical in its design, but still has some fun styling features. With its new range (maybe 400 km) I think it will be a very important EV if it is priced well. See the first (lime green) car pictured. I hope the Soul EV and Niro EV make it to Canada in substantial numbers. I have already gone on the Kia website to tell them so.

Tesla had a real booth this year and it was very busy.

There were a few notable new EV names in the game. The Chinese company Byton had three pre-production models which could be driven; no faster than 10 miles per hour. This is a luxury EV Tesla chaser. The cars are nice both inside and out but it is possible to have too big of a onboard computer screen in a car and Byton has proved that.

The real EV buzz in Los Angeles was about Rivian. This American company intends to produce electric pickup trucks in Michigan. Like the Bollinger truck, the Rivian uses a separate motor for each of its four wheels. They had a truck frame at the show, standing vertically to show off their elegant engineering. There is a rumour that Italian design firm Pininfarina will be using Rivian technology for a new car.model. Rivian will offer three battery sizes. The smallest is about the size of the largest battery you can get now and the biggest is …(sit down for this) … 180 kw. Speed and range are exemplary and I suggest you check out their website if you have not already done so for more specs. The Rivian is intended as an activity truck, not something to haul manure out to the field with, but it can tow up to 11,000 pounds. I remember reading once that Irish linen makers purposely included a flaw in their weaving because, “Only God can make something that is perfect”. I think Rivian used this philosophy when it came to the design of their headlights. Check the photo at the left and decide for yourself.

Los Angeles is a city I am getting to like the more I visit. The downtown is becoming much more vibrant than even four years ago and the car show is right in the middle of it all. The Metro public transit system is better than most people would guess. I purchased a Senior’s Transit Pass. In peak hours it cost me 75 cents for 90 minutes of travel and in off peak times I paid 35 cents. We had two days of incredible rainfall with flooding and mudslides that created havoc. It did clear the smog though. LA folk love their cars and most everybody that can afford a car avoids that public transit. This is a city that needs EVs in a big big way.

An interesting car I came across while walking was the parked blue Tesla Roadster shown at the right. If you take in the detail you have to ask yourself how a person with any sort of handicap gets in and out of that car. That is LA for you.

I also went to the Petersen Car Museum. For any car enthusiast this is a must. They had an electric and hybrid car display. In it was a 1915 Detroit Electric in a smart grey colour. I also got to see one of the 40 (out of 1100) Chevrolet EV1s that were not destroyed by GM.

Click on any of the images below to see a larger version.