The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine


LA Auto Show Debuts Push Range of Powertrain Technologies Forward

December 6, 2012

TORRANCE, CA – At the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show the general trend of powertrain advances was apparent, with automakers releasing the latest versions of a wide range of vehicles, from clean diesel sedans and electric vehicles to fuel-efficient small cars and compact SUVs. 

You can view a photo gallery of sedans from the LA Auto Show here, and a gallery of trucks, SUVs, and other models here.

Although no one powertrain trend dominated, a few did emerge, for example when it comes to non-gasoline powertrains. Audi and Mazda are both planning to offer clean diesel models, and Chevrolet, Fiat, and smart all showed small electric cars. Another notable trend is that automakers are working to balance fuel economy and vehicle performance, with vehicle engine sizes shrinking but turbocharging, direct-injection, and other technologies making up for fewer cylinders on many models.

Infotainment technologies also seemed to be everywhere, if not standard then available as an option. Many models also featured safety technologies, such as rear-view camera and lane departure warning systems, as standard or optional equipment, which shows the trend of once luxury-model-only features making their way into mainstream vehicles. With rear-view cameras potentially becoming mandatory standard equipment, though, it’s safe to assume automakers want to get ahead of the game.

New introductions at this year’s show from the Detroit Three included small cars, two EVs, and a van.

Chrysler had its Ram Commercial Truck brand on display, showing its 2013-MY Ram 1500 and its larger cousins. The automaker also brought a number of new Fiat-brand vehicles to the show, including its Fiat 500e electric vehicle, which Fiat said will get 80 miles of range (100 in urban driving conditions) and its 500L, a larger four-door relative of its 500, and a specific 500L model, the “Trekking” edition. Chrysler also showed an “S” upscale version of its Town & Country, and its Jeep Wrangler Rubicon special edition.

Models from Ford include the company’s 2014-MY Transit Connect Wagon, the passenger version of its all-new Transit Connect, and Ford’s 2014-MY Fiesta, which features Ford’s 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. For fleet managers, the Transit Connect Wagon is a major departure when compared to its current Transit Connect. Ford said the vehicle will offer at least 30 mpg highway fuel economy. It comes in long wheelbase and short wheelbase versions. You can check it out in our photo gallery here.

General Motors brought the electric version of its Spark, the Spark EV, to the show, which is capable of using a DC fast charge system for fast recharging. The automaker also brought its 2014-MY Impala to the show, which it originally debuted in New York.

From the non-domestic automakers, Mazda showed its new Mazda6 mid-size sedan. The automaker plans to offer a clean diesel version of this vehicle later in 2013. The automaker also brought an updated version of its CX-5, which offers more safety features for the 2014 model-year.

Hyundai showed its seven-passenger Santa Fe, which is the larger sibling to its five-passenger Santa Fe Sport. The automaker also showed a convertible concept version of its Veloster.

Toyota brought its all-new 2013-MY RAV4 to the show, which features a number of differences from previous models, including a single four-cylinder engine option and a rear liftgate rather than the previous model’s side-opening door. The automaker also had a number of its Avalon sedans on hand.

Nissan featured its Sentra compact sedan at the event along with a new concept crossover, the Hi-Cross. The automaker hinted that it will likely build a production version of its Hi-Cross Concept.

Volkswagen showed its Jetta Hybrid and its new Beetle Convertible at the event.

Subaru brought its all-new 2014-MY Forester to the show, which will come in two versions, a 2.0L direct-injection engine-equipped model, the 2.0XT, and a 2.5L-equipped version, the 2.5i. The vehicle features an all-new design and Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, which integrates features such as adaptive cruise control, collision pre-braking, and vehicle lane departure warning.

Honda had its 2013-MY version of its Civic, which was a quick redesign to address issues with the vehicle (specifically related to a Consumer Reports evaluation of the model). Changes include exterior updates, a more refined interior, and more standard equipment.

BMW’s Mini brand showed the latest addition to its lineup, the Paceman, which is set to go on sale in March 2012. The automaker also showed its fleet model, the Clubvan.

Among the luxury brands, BMW showed two of its “i” sub-brand concepts, the i3 Concept, which is an all-electric model, and its i8 Spyder Concept, which is a high-end convertible plug-in hybrid.

Audi plans to roll out a range of clean diesel (TDI) versions of its A6, A7, A8, and Q5.

Mercedes had its smart-brand fortwo electric drive at the show and its GL350 Bluetec along with a number of AMG models and a concept called the Ener-G-Force.

Volvo showed its S60 Polestar concept at the show, which comes with a turbocharged, inline six-cylinder engine that can produce 508 hp.

By Greg Basich

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