LA Auto Show Day 1…In A Nutshell

Well that was a blur….and a pain in the feet. It's always that way after sitting in the office, or the car, or client's dealerships and OEM offices. But to stand for all but 90 minutes in a day is tough. Anyway, the day was full to say the least. After breakfast (Thanks Motor Press Guild!), it was time to listen to Stefan Jacoby, Volvo's new CEO. Hmmm. Insightful but the conversation around the table with High Gear Media at breakfast was more than a bit higher on the engagement meter.

Then it was time for the Volt road trip replay, oops, the GM press conference. Aside from the obviously dirty car and great impact that their trip from Detroit to LA provided, the car part of it didn't have the normal sizzle. The Camaro convertible was nice…

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VW's booth was packed. And that's not only becase of the food spread after their conference. Lots about the EOS convertible and Heidi Klum, not enough about the Golf Blue-e-motion or next-gen Passat. Not earth-shattering, but better than GM. Could have been more "we're taking over the industry by 2017".

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Jaguar (ok, and Land Rover too), which has surprised my since changing ownership, seems to be getting their swagger back (pun intended). The concept and approved-production cars seem to be edgier and willing to take more risk than in the past 10 years. The stand didn't seem to really work for the media trying to see but it was clear that they're gaining on the buzz factor.

Mercedes may have won the "our press event can kick your press event's butt" based on the Ducati and cupcake tie in, but so did the car stuff. It was the second bland presentation of the day (both German) but the CLS63 is just simply rocking and the B Class did get a lot of nods. They'll continue to sell cars and compete for the luxury sales title with Lexus and BMW. It seems to be about little notches in the bedpost these days….

Porsche was about the Cayman R. And food. And wine. The historical video was cool and the Cayman definitely hits on way higher marks than the past version. They didn't disappoint this year and their booth (room) always seems to be just beyond pristine. So someone should tell their people to turn down the stuffed-shirt feeling and have some fun. Isn't that what Porsche is about anyway?! (that and a lot of dead presidents).

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Sorry, Nissan was accidentally missed but onto Fiat. After taking part in Mini and Smart press conferences and being around the Audi A1 marketing machine, it's not surprising to see a small car. I hope the 500 can make the brand, dealers and customers happy. I'm still reserving comment but my temperature is going to have to go up slightly…soon.

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Subaru is just killing it in sales and they don't need much in the way of redesigning their product line. So that's when it was lunch.

Ford continues to impress. Got to hear/see about a few of the buzz models and spent 15 minutes chatting with @ScottMonty. The upcoming Focus ST definitely got my attention on the spec's alone. Then there's chatter about an electric Focus. What really was fun? Slot car racing and a new simulator (they've had some over the past few years at LA Auto Show, SEMA, NADA, etc). Still bummed that I missed them when they were penny stock just a few years ago…

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Honda seems to be going steadily, but slowly, down the path of alternatives. You can count on that. Honda's Fit EV keeps the drum beating but their gas cars are so efficient, where is everything going? The cars still need more life (but the last two seem to at least be designed by someone with a pulse) but their engineering is so sound, you just have to listen for 40 minutes. (Actually I started a conversation with Brian Glickman from Edmunds so my story should be changed!). No oohs or aaahs but some nodding heads at the close.

Skipped Dodge and Lotus for compelling conversations and walking around before the early departure this afternoon.

A few things are clear:

  • Budgets are coming back, spurred by sales and profits. The booths are bigger again, there's espresso machines and music blaring, heck all companies had their lights on the whole time! The buzz is back and it feels good. As one of my friends said today, even the carpet padding is a couple grades up from the last couple years and that's a great sign!
  • Giveaways are cool, but if it's less than two inches by two inches or you wouldn't want/keep it yourself, send it back to the ad agency or widget maker.And make sure everyone there gets your media kits…you never know how many of the non-media people acutally do stuff for lots of dealerships!
  • IMPORTANT: Now get the excitement from the show flloor to the dealers, back it up with better education than they've been receiving and we'll really have something to celebrate. Retail sells cars. Not the OEMs.

That's my story and I'm…sticking to it! Maybe another round tomorrow. Press conferences are Hyundai, Audi, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Wheego, Morgan and Perana.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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