We’re in Los Angeles for the LA Auto Show and this morning we’re talking about that show as well as about grumbling from companies at the G20 Summit about American EV regs, the expansion of the GM Super Cruise network, and a new Pacifica for road trips.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Don’t Forget That People Still Want To Touch Cars
There’s been a shift in the auto industry, hastened by the pandemic, to spend less money on auto shows and spend more on bespoke events for journalists. There’s some definite logic to this plan; auto show booths can be expensive (millions of dollars if you build a whole mini city) and fewer journos are showing up (which is why automakers spend a lot of money flying people in to see the show).
Car And Driver announced the death of auto shows way back in 2018 when the German automakers started pulling out of shows.
As I walking around the Los Angeles Show yesterday during prep and getting excited over all the cars I’d yet to see in person, I was reminded that it’s as much a consumer event as it is a media event. David and I reminisced about how the biggest days of the year for us in our youth were the days that the local auto show came to town (Shout out Houston Auto Show!). [Editor’s Note: Kansas City Auto Show; I miss you!. -DT]
There’s a definite anti-show bias among some journalists who either remember the good times (pre-2008 when every press conference featured a celebrity and a bar) or are too jaded and cool for it. But we’re here because we love cars and we want people–especially young people–to also love cars, and what better way to get them hooked than to give them a chance to see the damn cars! When I brought my daughter to the 2019 New York International Auto Show she insisted on touching and sitting in everything with wheels (including a garbage truck).
We are having a party today (still time to RSVP I think!) at the LA Auto Show in the Galpin Hall of Customs, so we are definitely a little biased towards car shows, but I think my point stands. People expected the Detroit Auto Show to flop this year but, in spit of many challenges, it seems like attendance rebounded significantly. [Editor’s Note: Not sure this is the greatest example based on what I’ve heard from journalsits, though I will say that the SEMA show was amazing this year, even if that’s an industry show more than a consumer one. -DT].
This year’s LA Auto Show is missing some big names who, for whatever reason, thought they didn’t need to be here. That’s their loss. Brands like Ford and Ram, in particular, filled the space evacuated by others with test tracks and huge interactive exhibits.
VinFast also has a huge display and, if I were walking around the LA Auto Show as an impressionable youth, I’d assume that VinFast was the most exciting new luxury automaker and that BMW didn’t exist or was going out of business.
GM Super Cruise Expands Its Map
Fun fact: I have a degree in Geography from the University of Texas. Even though I studied to be a cultural geographer, I still love maps. Old maps. New maps. Digital maps. Paper maps. Maps rule.
I have not driven every Level 2 driving system, but I’ve driven most of them at this point, and GM’s Super Cruise stands out as the best and one of the reasons is that it’s geofenced to certain pre-mapped roads. This means that it will only work in situations and on highways where it feels confident that the system can keep the car safely pointed where it needs to go.
The system is not perfect and there were two issues with Super Cruise the last time I used it:
- The system is actually so seamless that people can become overconfident in its abilities, which is not unique to GM but an issue with basically all Level 2 driving systems.
- There were some areas I’d have liked to have used the system on that were not mapped.
GM’s addressed the second issue by doubling the covered roads to more than 400,000 miles of geofenced goodness and put out this map showing everywhere you can drive. Look out Thomas, I’m headed your way!
There’s Now A Pacifica Road Tripper
You know what’s cool, kids? Maps. I’ve established this. You know what’s also cool? Minivans.
I had to drive around large chunks of this country back when I was making commercials and TV shows and I cajoled a number of Hertz and Enterprise employees to let me take a Pacifica if one was available because it was an easy and comfortable way to get around with a lot of stuff.
There really isn’t much I’d change to the Pacifica to make it good at road trips and, fittingly, neither did Chrysler when it created the Pacifica Road Tripper package. Instead, what the brand did was add some unique orange graphics, the all-weather protection package, and a roof rack.
The MSRP for this is $2,395 for the Touring L, $2,095 for the L AWD and $1,495 for the Touring L Hybrid. That’s actually a decent deal as slotting all these options on yourself is, minimum, a $2,500 affair before the roof rack.
People Are Still Pissed About The Inflation Reduction Act
President Biden had a good midterm election, as far as those things go, but his victory lap in Bali for the G20 Summit wasn’t quite so cheery as he and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen got an earful from other countries about their new EV tax credit rules.
There’s an explainer here, but the basic premise here is that the United States opened up the $7,500 tax credit to all EVs with no limits on how many cars it could apply to. Automakers like this part. The catch was that the EVs in question need to be substantially built in the United States and the battery materials need to come from either the United States or their trading partners. This has caused some issues.
I’m just going to run down some of the quotes from various countries in this Reuters piece on the topic:
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said the revamped tax credits in the IRA are a “major shock” to the European industry and brought the issue up at a meeting with Yellen on the G20 summit sidelines.
“We don’t want, at the end of the war in Ukraine, to have Europe being weakened,” Le Maire added.
[South Korean President] Yoon asked Biden to prevent discriminatory measures against South Korean companies, his office said, adding that Biden had said the implementation of the law should account for the contribution of South Korean investment in the U.S. economy.
Jose Munoz, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor, told a Reuters automotive conference last month that the North American-only rule would be an “astronomical” blow to Hyundai.
I am of the belief that the transition to electric cars is great and important but also haphazard and if this law encourages automakers to slow down a bit and build batteries in the United States with materials sourced from places we aren’t possibly going to war with that we’re all the better for it. The law is fairly clear, but, as always, open to interpretation and it’s probably fine if the Biden administration makes a few interpretations that give automakers a break while they adjust to the law.
What’s your favorite auto show memory?
Photos: LA Auto Show, Chrysler, White House, GM