On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
AUTO SHOWS are good fun, whether they’re overflowing with live-action glitz or merely new-car curious tire-kickers. Here are some tidbits from our local show of international status, the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Just as this show is local and of international status, so is Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, one of its exhibitors. Its international status is confirmed by the number of talented Art Center graduates who have shaped our cars and a multitude of other industrial designs.
Besides Transportation Design, Art Center has other specialties in Advertising, Entertainment, Environmental, Graphic, Interaction and Product Design and also Film, Fine Art, Illustration, Photography and Imaging.
Art Center had several of its projects on display at the show, accompanied by students sketching their thoughts and chatting about automotive shapes.
Other examples of automotive design could be seen through five halls of the vast Los Angeles Convention Center. (And don’t you walk your feet off at such a venue!).
Two contrasting automotive design themes could be identified at the show this year: refined evolution versus in-your-face presence. I suspect each approach has its adherents as well as detractors.
The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is an excellent example of refined evolution.
This car, in Mazda jargon the ND, hardly jars anyone who admired previous Miatas, even back to the 1989 original. (The initial Simanaitis Says item, in August 2012, celebrated that model; http://wp.me/p2ETap-1C.)
The 2016 version is a tad larger (width increased to 68.1 in. compared with the original’s 65.9). Its interior is a skosh roomier, though I’ve never admitted problems with the latter.
I predict continued success for the Miata, particularly considering the paucity of competitors; to my mind, there are none at the moment.
At the other styling extreme are Toyota’s (and Lexus sibling’s) in-your-face presence. The prototype Prius V exhibited at the show is one example of this.
One school of thought is that Toyota styling is anticipating fuel-cell propulsion (because fuel-cell stacks require a considerable flow of air as part of their delicate temperature balancing). Another conjecture is that aggressive front ends sell. See just about any Lexus.
I’m undecided, though I tend to shy away (far away) from most tendencies of aggression. What’s your view?
Despite its er … strong styling statement, I confess to admiring the Mirai, the name (Japanese for “future”) chosen for Toyota’s production fuel-cell sedan.
The Mirai goes on sale late in 2015 for a projected $57,500, with an alternative of leasing for $499/month after $3649 down.
As examples of fuel cell commitment, Honda announced at the show that it is lending $13.6 million to FirstElement Fuel, a Newport Beach, California, firm that is setting up 12 more hydrogen fueling stations in the state.
Toyota is lending $7.3 million to FirstElement, as well as a separate commitment in the Northeast Corridor linking New York City and southern New England. My particular corner of southern California already has two stations within a few miles, each accessible 24/7.
Regular readers may have noted my long-term interest in fuel-cell propulsion. See my Fairbanks-to-Vancouver and Las Vegas-to-San Diego adventures, http://wp.me/p2ETap-3l, and especially the Burns/Borroni-Bird/Mitchell argument (http://wp.me/p2ETap-hR) that no single propulsion need “win out.”
The future will have appropriate horses for different courses.
Speaking of horses (you weren’t thinking Cavallino, were you?), Porsche had all of Petree Hall for its displays, many of which were shown in brilliant white livery.
The star was world debut of the production Macan, what Porsche calls “the sports car of the compact SUV segment,” a hot segment at the moment.
Me? I’ll dream of the Porsche 918 Spyder, the prototype of which has been previously celebrated at this website, http://wp.me/p2ETap-PN.
This exotic plug-in hybrid made its North American debut at the show. “Zero to 60 in less than 2.8 seconds, 887 horsepower, virtually silent electric propulsion.” I’d opt for the $845,000 918 Spyder and forgo the $929,000 Spyder Weissach Package.
Mustn’t be greedy now. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014