LOS ANGELES – The L.A. Auto Show kicked off 2006 Jan. 6-15 at the Convention Center showcasing more than 1,000 vehicles, from hybrids and crossover utility vehicles to SUVs and pickups. Highlighting the show were more than 30 domestic and import-badged debuts, includ-ing the 2007 Chevrolet Aveo and Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, Mazda CX-7, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Volkswagen Eos. Several concepts were also introduced, including the Dodge Nitro SUV, Hyundai NEOS III SUV, and GM Sequel fuel-cell vehicle. Replacing the Echo, Toyota introduced the new Yaris sedan, projected to achieve up to 40 mpg on the highway. Mercedes-Benz debuted its new S-Class sedan, the S550, which is powered by a 5.5L V-8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. executive VP, revealed the company’s “Way Forward” business plan to journalists during Media Day. The plan involves clarifying and leveraging the brand identities of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury, and better connecting with its customers. More details will be revealed Jan. 23. Fields said there was a huge market for American cars in the U.S. and believed that Americans want to buy American brands. He also said that crossover utility vehicles were the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. and are on pace to exceed traditional SUV sales this year for the first time ever.