German cars are the stars in Los Angeles
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Star of the show in California: The new Ford Fiesta, here as a five-door hatchback. The production of the Cologne will start in America next year.
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Original American legend: the reissued Porsche Boxster Spyder. Hollywood star James Dean died in a Model 550 in 1958.
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New shooting star on Hollywood Boulevard: the Mercedes AMG SLS gullwing.
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Somehow fishy: the Lotus Elise photographed with a special lens.
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A ray of hope last year: Chrysler’s Dodge Challenger is still selling well.
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Chrysler’s 300C is also one of the successful models of 2009.
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Honda spreads pure futurism with the three-seater P-Nut.
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In 2011 the Hyundai Sonata should come onto the market. We’ll call it i50.
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The Fiesta cousin Mazda2 is also in the starting blocks for 2011.
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The new concept coupe of the Mini: The tiny collapsed in the US market by 44 percent in the fall.
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Top chopping (lowering the car roof) looks like this on the Jeep Wrangler.
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The new Sienna mini-van from Toyota will probably never be available in Europe.
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The E-Tron electric sports car from Audi will likely remain just a concept car.
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California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger sits in a VW Touran eco fuel. In the background, VW design manager Klaus Bischoff.
Source: dpa / DPA
The last fair of the year is forgiving. In the hope of an end to the crisis, manufacturers are spreading optimism. From a German point of view, the show is a real success: you can’t get past small cars from VW and Ford, as well as super sports cars from Porsche, Audi or AMG.
Na well, you can still laugh: after the car bosses had to bear grief for a year, a slight smile slowly spreads over their crisis-wrinkled faces. The valley is not yet traversed, but at least its bottom seems to have been reached. The sales figures are stabilizing a little and the acute risk of bankruptcy for the three large US manufacturers has been averted for the time being.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, the funeral march was played in the dim light on bare floors, but optimistic sounds are booming from the speakers again, models are leaning against the cars again, glistening spotlights are shining from the ceiling and the crisis is turning to the traditional Annual finale of the international trade fair circuit on the ghost of yesterday.
But even if the industry is in a festive mood again, the year has left clearly visible marks: in the spotlight are neither the large SUVs that critics so like to brand as anachronism and blame for the failure of the Americans, nor the lusty muscle cars, with which Ford, General Motors and Chrysler could promise a little fun even in bad times. This time mainly small and compact cars, which we Europeans seem strangely familiar, are turning on the stages.
From an American perspective, the star of the fair is therefore the new Ford Fiesta, which is now finding its way across the Atlantic from Cologne and is even getting a brother with four doors and a stubby tail. And if you don’t like its subtly Americanized design, you can buy the almost identical car with a Japanese passport. Because with a view to the supposed change of heart of the Americans, the Fiesta cousin Mazda2 is now also coming across the pond.
The other two US corporations are not quite ready with their small car plans. The successor to the Chevrolet Aveo will not be available until January in Detroit, the even more manageable Spark will be shown by the most important GM brand in New York at Easter at the earliest, and the Cinquecento of the new parent company Fiat will also need at least another year.
You will have to wait even longer, and probably in vain, for the most important innovation at the fair for Europeans: the VW Up! Lite. The 3.84 meter long streamlined three-door from Wolfsburg is now the fifth variation of the promising small car and this time it is powered by a diesel hybrid: two cylinders, 0.8 liter displacement and, in a teamwork with the electric motor, 68 hp are enough for 160 km / h and thanks to systematic lightweight construction for a consumption of 2.44 liters. No other four-seater in the world is more economical, rave the Lower Saxony.
Nevertheless, Ulrich Hackenberg, Head of Development at VW, only presents the little Knauser as a model with which the developers want to sound out all the possibilities on the future small car platform. And that may not be a stupid move. Because the Americans don’t seem really ripe for the uprising of the dwarfs yet. Manufacturers may have understood the signs of the times – but customers still prefer to buy off-road vehicles and pick-ups.
Since the gasoline price ended its painful soaring – at least for the time being – the old big ships have been back at the top of the registration statistics. And once celebrated small car stars like the Mini or the Smart almost plunge into the abyss: the Baby Benz lost two thirds from October to November and the young BMW lost 44 percent.
So it’s no wonder that a few normal premieres are celebrated in addition to the small cars. The most important of these is at Chevrolet and is twice as familiar to the German guests. After all, we have been selling the compact, hopeful Cruze for a few months, and on top of that, under the sheet metal is the floor pan of the new Opel Astra.
All other large-series novelties are primarily of local importance: the Lexus GX 460, for example, is bought by far more people in America than the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is identical in construction, from us. The new V6 engine for the Ford Mustang is only available from the German gray importer and innovations such as the mini-van Toyota Sienna, the five-GT clone Honda Accord Crosstour, the Coupe of the Cadillac CTS will never make it across the Atlantic. Only the new Hyundai Sonata is sure to come to us, but it will probably be called i50.
Incidentally, thanks to the lack of Lamborghini and Ferrari, the German manufacturers also set the tone for the new dream cars for the stars of the dream factory. Because the rich and famous look primarily to the new James Dean Porsche Boxster Spyder, which is celebrating its world premiere in Los Angeles. If things can be a little more expensive or more visionary, Audi shows the open-top R8 and the electric sports car E-Tron, and Mercedes lures in the actual home market of AMG with the new SLS.
While normal mortals have to wait until the beginning of next year for the super sports car and the first batch is already sold out, car enthusiast and talk show host Jay Leno was already on the road with it in the SLS and made his judgment: For him, the gullwing is the new star on Sunset Boulevard.
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