LA Auto Show

Augusto Amorim, Senior Manager, Americas Vehicle Sales Forecasts

30 November 2018

New releases at the LA Auto Show

Introductions at the Los Angeles Auto Show could account for up to 750,000 sales in 2019

The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public this Friday (30 November). Although some OEMs have abandoned auto shows in favor of more targeted events, auto shows still attract visitors, and automakers still use them to introduce vehicles. Here are the highlights of this year’s show. The new models are forecast to sell above 750,000 in the US in 2019, which would represent more than 4% of total sales.


Eying Tesla, Audi introduced the e-tron GT. Two inches lower than the A7, it resembles the gas-powered vehicle – and the shoulder line is very much like the Tesla Model 3’s. The e-tron GT is a 4-seater that offers 590 hp, very close to the R8 V10. Audi says that the GT can reach 80% of its charge in 20 minutes, and the interior is also ecofriendly, with fabric seats instead of leather and fish nets that became panel doors. We need to wait until 2020 to see if Audi will sell a Premium Sporty model with fabric seats. Before that, the e-tron SUV launches next year, and there will be a third family member, the e-tron Sportback, that reaches showrooms late in 2019.


The German brand has expanded in the SUV market more than its competitors, but one missing segment size was a Large Premium SUV. The X7 address this issue and makes BMW more competitive against the Mercedes-Benz GLS and even against domestic truck-based SUVs, such as the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade. The 3-row SUV will come with standard air suspension, which provides more than 8” of ground clearance, although it is unlikely that the X7 will drive that often on dirt roads.


Honda Passport LA Auto Show

As more and more consumers buy SUVs, OEMs are trying to fill every possible segment size with this bodytype. That is exactly what Honda has done with the Passport, the five-passenger version of the Pilot. Larger than the CR-V, the Passport is basically a smaller Pilot with minor tweaks in the trunk door. They share the same V6 engine. The different name is likely to help with differentiation, but consumers may see through this. We expect most of Passport buyers to come from the Pilot.


After a confusing strategy offering two vehicles that looked like the same and were named almost the same, Hyundai has more clearly distinguished the Santa Fe (formerly the Santa Fe Sport) from its larger version, now called Palisade, both being known until recently as Santa Fe and Santa Fe XL. The differentiation is likely to help the brand to sell a projected 50,000 Palisades in 2021. Hyundai says the Palisade was designed with the American consumer in mind. The 8-passenger SUV arrives in the summer with features such as an intercom for passenger on the first row talk to the ones who are on the third row.


Jeep Gladiator LA Auto ShowThe brand is finally back to the Pickup segment, which it left in 1992. The Gladiator is a lifecycle vehicle than rivals the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado and other Midsize trucks – as is the vehicle on which it is based, the Wrangler. The Gladiator has removable doors and a fold-down windshield. To remain true to its Jeep roots, the Gladiator will offer standard 4×4. We expect buyers to migrate from the Wrangler to the Gladiator to some degree, which has a forecast of 50,000 units in its peak year.


The Soul is the best-selling Kia between 2011 and 2016, but it has lost some ground to the Forte and Optima. However, its third generation is well equipped to make it competitive again. Kia created three different lines for the Soul – going from the sportier GT to the electric version, which has a range of 100 miles after being charged for 30 minutes. Sales start in Q1 2019, and consumers will find a higher tech content, including a 10.3” touchscreen and wireless phone charging.


Forecast to sell less than half of the CX-5 2018 volume, the Mazda3 is still the second most popular vehicle that Mazda sells in the US. That is why Mazda says it has improved quality in all areas of the vehicle. At a time when OEMs are simplifying their offerings, the Mazda3 will have five engine options, including a diesel one. The new vehicle will also be able to monitor fatigue and will alert the driver if it is time for a break. The Mazda3 will be offered as a sedan or hatchback, just as it is today.


The most iconic of the Porsches arrived in Los Angeles in its eighth generation. The 911 is what the brand calls a timeless machine. With its fascia inspired in the first generation, the profile is similar to what it has always been and the rear now houses new vertical third brake lights. The front and rear wheels are different sizes. According to Porsche, with 403 hp, the new base 911 is as powerful as the outgoing 911 GTS. Its top speed is 191 mph, not bad to drive along the Pacific Coast – California is the most important state for the brand in the US.


Rivian R1T LA Auto ShowElectric vehicles started mostly as Cars, and then the technology spread to SUVs. Now, Pickups are being electrified. Rivian showed the R1T, expected to arrive in 2020. With a promised range of 400 miles, it can reach 125 mph, according to Rivian. The lack of a traditional engine helps the off-road skills of the Pickup: the R1T can wade in up to one meter of water, and its approach angle is 34 degrees – compared with the Jeep Gladiator’s 43.6 degrees. The unique front design is also functional, as the central bar indicates the battery status. The R1T will share much of its underpinnings and parts with the R1S SUV, also expected to reach the market in two years.


Toyota Corolla LA Auto Show

Following its strategy to offer hybrid version of all its vehicles, Toyota presented the first-ever Corolla hybrid for the US market. The new Corolla gets an edgy design, and technology was upgraded. It will offer an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple Car Play, Amazon Alexa and wi-fi. However, a Corolla Hybrid does not mean that the make is abandoning the Prius, dismissing rumors about the Prius’ future. Synonymous with hybrid technology, the Prius has received moderate visual changes in the front and rear and lost some of its futurist look. However, one of the main changes is that AWD is now available.


After its diesel scandal, Volkswagen has been pushing ahead in electric vehicles. It has introduced several member of the ID family – the first one arrives in the US in 2020. In Los Angeles, the company launched the concept of a cargo van that is powered by electric motors. Volkswagen sees commercial Vans as an opportunity as more consumers turn to online shopping. There is the risk that drones will also become an important delivery tool, and we expect Vans to be the first victim of autonomous vehicles. As they initially operate in geofenced areas, we see them circulating 24/7 to deliver packages, reducing the size of fleets.