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LA Auto Show Goes Green

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES –  Fuel efficiency, in-car technology and speed dominate the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show at the Downtown Convention Center. The auto show opens to the public on November 16 to November 25.

Hybrid cars have been in hot-demand in recent years and with the cost of gas nearing $4 a gallon in California, Hybrids will no doubt continue to increase sales over the next year. Los Angeles alone has more hybrid vehicle owners than the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany combined, according to Hybridcars.com research.

Green

Car manufacturers touted their latest “Green” cars in Los Angeles.

General Motors (GM) unveiled five new fuel-efficient vehicles for 2009. GM introduced the Aveo5, Chevy Silverado Hybrid, Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Tahoe SUV Hybrid, and the Chevy Volt, GM’s latest electric vehicle.

“We are changing the way we power America,” proclaimed GM’s Vice Chairman for Product Development Robert Lutz. “We want to be part of the solution to today’s societies energy issues as a matter of energy efficiency, national security and other environmental responsibilities.”

“People now feel that they have a social responsibility,” Lutz added.

Along with GM, Cadillac’s Escalade Hybrid delivers more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving. Porsche is featuring its popular SUV Cayenne Hybrid with a fuel economy of at least 26 miles-per-gallon.

The Chrysler Group introduced their Hybrid line – the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.  Ford Motor Co. will have their Hybrid Escape SUV in a new color tone. Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai are other automakers displaying Hybrid vehicles or concept cars.

Honda’s FCX Clarity stole the show. The Clarity runs on Hydrogen Fuel Cell that would get up to 68 miles per gallon with zero emissions and a total range of 270 miles. Honda said the car is due out next year and offers potential buyers a three-year lease plan for $600 a month.

Not enough

However, with all this talk about fuel efficiency, outside of the LA Convention Center members of the Freedom From Oil Campaign plan to protest all week saying that automakers are not doing enough.

“The automakers know how to put on a good show, but when the rubber hits the road, their only real commitment is to keeping the status quo,” said Sarah Connolly of Rainforest Action Network. “With extreme drought and wildfires in California, oil spills fouling the shores of San Francisco and the Black Sea, and oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, it is high time for the automakers to stop saying what they can’t do and start giving American drivers the oil-free, zero-emissions vehicles we want and deserve.”

Lutz on the other hand disagrees. He said there is no silver bullet when it comes to fixing the environment’s problems.

“There is no single solution, or secret solution that will solve all of our energy and environmental problems,” said Lutz. “But we can make a really big difference by working with challenges from many different angles at the same time. Regardless of fuel or technology, our goal remains the same, the best possible fuel economy for whichever type of vehicle our customers choose.”

Voice activation

Meanwhile, on the other side of the convention center, Ford representatives are busy showing members of the press their latest and exclusive in-car entertainment system.

Ford has teamed up with computer software giant Microsoft for a new “Sync” program. Sync is a fully integrated, voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communication and entertainment system for your mobile phone and digital music player.

“You can make a phone call by just saying ‘call [example] Robert,’” said Ford Spokesperson Octavio Navarro. “The system can read your text messages to you and you can respond through a series of already typed out messages.”

Navarro said unlike previous voice recognition system that made errors, Sync features a more highly sophisticated program.

“It’s the next generation of voice activation,” he said.

The Sync operating system will become standard in all new Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars this fall. The cars will all have Bluetooth capabilities and a USB port for those with a flash drive that contains music.  Most specifically, the Ford Escape will have an AC adapter port for those wanting to connect a laptop computer or other devices.

Navarro added voice-activation makes searching for songs much easier. For those people with hundreds of songs on their iPod, flash drives, or other digital MP3 players, all they have to say is the artists name or title of the song to play it.

“All you have to do is say [voice-command] the title of the song that you want to listen to,” said Navarro. “That way you’re not pressing the buttons to look for a song and not paying attention to the road.”

Navarro also said that the program would have automatic updates just by logging on to a computer through http://www.syncmyride.com.

“This is the future of car technology,” he said.

The need for speed

Of course, it wouldn’t be a car show until you visit the Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Audi and Ferrari side of the convention center.

Lamborghini is showing off only one of 20 Reventon’s worldwide. Inside the sleek charcoal grey aerodynamic lightweight carbon-fiber body panels is a 6.5-liter V12 engine boasting 650 horsepower, and runs a top speed of 211 miles per hour or 0 to 60 miles-per-hour at 3.4 seconds. All 20 cars have already been sold at $1.4 million each.

The Nissan GT-R delivers just as much. The twin-turbocharged GT-R has a 3.8-liter V-6 engine delivering 473 horsepower. The car accelerates 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.

For old school people who remember the very first movie car chase scene, Ford unveiled the Mustang “Bullitt.” Inspired by the 1968 Steve McQueen movie of the same name, the car features a 4.6-liter V-8 engine and delivers 315 horsepower.

Other speedy cars to look for are the Audi A4, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS, Mercedes Benz C63 AMG, Porsche 911 GT2, Lotus Exige S Club Racer and Bentley Continental GT Speed.

Tickets for the Auto Show are $10 (cash only), children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Seniors (65+) pay $7. Discount coupons will be available at participating LA area new car dealerships and 7-Eleven stores. Hours from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (www.asianjournal.com)

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