LA Auto Show muscles in with significant world debuts

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Twenty world debuts are being touted by organizers of next month's Los Angeles auto show.

What a difference a date makes.

Every January for years, press conferences for the L.A. show ended literally hours before Detroit's press events kicked off. L.A. played second fiddle to Motown's show.

The result was Los Angeles got a handful of world debuts. Plus, the news value of those debuts sometimes wasn't worth the time and cost of a trip to L.A. A world debut sometimes amounted to a sporty version of an existing vehicle. The best production vehicles and concepts were destined for the Detroit show.

But after years of prodding by auto executives and journalists, a few years ago show organizers finally admitted that the only way L.A. would become a major attraction on the show circuit would require a new time frame. Additionally, auto executives and journalists were tired of racing to Detroit.

Now, L.A. is targeting November for its annual event.

The result? Automakers are lining up to schedule significant world debuts. Press conferences are scheduled Nov. 17-18. The event is open to the public Nov. 19-28.

What's planned? Here's a partial list of world debuts based on automaker announcements and other sources:

• 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan and convertible

• 2011 Kia Optima sedan hybrid

• 2011 Nissan Murano Cabriolet

• 2011 Nissan Quest minivan

• 2011 Saab 9-4X crossover

• 2012 Volkswagen Eos hardtop convertible

Additionally, Honda will introduce an electric vehicle concept, and Nissan will unveil a sedan concept called the Ellure.

Honda also will reveal a plug-in hybrid platform showcasing the next-generation of Honda hybrid technology.

In real estate, it's location, location, location.

For auto shows, it's timing, timing, timing. L.A. found the right time frame to boost the show's prominence.