Los Angeles Auto Show Gets Its Green On

Los Angeles, California is a mecca for high-end car enthusiasts and eco-minded drivers alike. This year, the line between the two blur at the LA Auto Show, taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center Nov. 18-27. More than 1,000 cars are on display, of which more than 70 are considered green vehicles.

Almost every car maker, from BMW to Kia is showcasing their own version of a ‘green’ car. You’ll find all-electric vehicles, hybrids, and cars that run on hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas. The number of cars on display that are powered by some form of electricity have grown by 25 percent since last year’s show.

BMW i8 on display at the LA Auto Show. Image copyright EarthTechling

BMW is debuting its i8 concept and i3 concept cars at the show. The BMW i3, touted as providing sustainable urban mobility, is all-electric and made to go far on just one charge. The The BMW i8 is the upgraded, sporty sibling of the i3, a  plug-in hybrid that combines the modified electric drive system from the BMW i3 Concept with a high-performance three-cylinder combustion engine. The sports car can go from 0 to 62 mph in less than 5 seconds and can drive 20 miles on electricity alone. Both cars are encased in a carbon-fiber, reinforced plastic with futuristic see-through panels. The BMW i3 is slated for mass production in 2013 and will likely retail in the mid $30,000-range.

BMW i3 concept on display at the LA Auto Show. Image copyright EarthTechling.

CODA Automotive, a Los-Angeles-based manufacturer of the all-electric four-door, five-passenger sedan, has its cars on display as well. The car, which just entered production, has a range of up to 150 miles with one charge.  CODA got kudos from Los Angeles City mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, who spoke to press at the show, saying the city is going after green businesses like CODA to establish themselves in the city. “We want LA to become the electric vehicle capital of the US,” he said.

CODA Sedan on display at the LA Auto Show. Image copyright EarthTechling.

Additional green cars on display include the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota’s new Prius v. Lucky members of the media were allowed to test drive the cars. If you’ve never driven an electric vehicle before, getting used to the silence of an electric vehicle, not to mention not having to turn a key in the ignition takes time. But a few laps around the convention center and this reporter was sold. Time to go electric.

Chevy Volt on display at the LA Auto Show. Image copyright Earthtechling.

The Chevy Volt (a favorite of Jay Leno, among other celebrities) is a green car that can go 35 miles on electricity alone, but also contains on onboard range extender producing electricity so you can travel another 375 miles. For its silence, the car is still incredibly peppy and accelerates with just a touch of the pedal. A number of bells and whistles are featured on the console display. One is the efficiency gauge, a little green ball, that moves up and down – the goal being to keep it centered in the middle for optimal eco driving. The car retails around $39,000 and with rebates and tax incentives ends up costing about $31,000.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.