2018 LA Auto Show: The past goes toe-to-toe with the future

By DPA | 6 December 2018

LOS ANGELES: Big car makers once again do their best to command some of the spotlight at the LA Auto Show (Nov 30 to Dec 9).

While the showing was less impressive than at the Paris Motor Show a few months ago, the big guns are seeing out 2018 in style as they exhibit their latest models at the last motor show of the year.

However, like the setup from a Hollywood screenplay, the new models on display make it clear how torn the industry is as it tries to find its way from the old world towards a new era.

At the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, it has been a showdown between the beloved petrol-guzzling models established in the last decade, and the all-electric new kids on the block.

The undisputed star of the LA Auto Show is the new Porsche 911 which, despite being stronger, faster and more digital than ever before, remains an icon of the past.

Despite interior and exterior design updates — such as large digital screens — and the six-cylinder 331kW/450hp engine under the bonnet, the 911 remains as familiar as ever.

It stands out as the best of the old world, which is something fellow German manufacturer Audi aims to counter with its all-electric e-tron GT.

Powered by two electric motors with 434kW/590hp and, thanks to more than 90kWh battery capacity, more than 400km of range, the e-tron GT promises 911-level acceleration of 0-100kph in 3.5 seconds.

It is a duality that repeats itself throughout the show here, not just in German roadsters, but also in the typically American segment of pick-ups.

On one side, there is the new Jeep Gladiator, with which the rugged Wrangler gets a new open cargo bed in the back. On the other side is the start-up Rivian's R1T, which is slated for a 2020 release.

Where the Jeep opts for petrol and diesel-powered V6 engines, the Rivian wants electric engines to fuel its tough-working vehicle.

It's the latter however that clocks in the impressive figures, offering a driving range of 600km - which could become the most of any all-electric vehicle on the market.

For BMW, however, the identity confusion of the industry is perfectly reflected in its new SUVs - the X7 and the iNext.

Both are large, luxurious SUVs for the more affluent motorist, with the petrol and diesel powered X7's V8 engine once more in competion with the purely electric — and also autonomous — iNext.

However, as different as the two cars are and as far apart as they are technically, they are closer in time than one might think.

The X7 should be on the market in 2019 and the iNext is expected to go into production by 2021, says BMW's development board member, Klaus Froehlich, taking the showdown from the motor show to the streets soon.

So while the electric models are certainly the new kids in town, it seems like the old timers in the car market still aren't ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.

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