2019 LA Auto Show: Queue Up the Crossovers and Electric Vehicles

November 14, 2019 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

Automakers are going electric-vehicle and crossover crazy at the 2020 Los Angeles Auto Show that starts Wednesday.

In advance of the show, Ford will debut the Mustang-inspired Mach-E electric crossover at a small airport in the Los Angeles basin. Ford designed the performance crossover as a Tesla fighter. It will serve as the automaker’s flagship as Ford pushes into the electric vehicle era. Like Tesla, it will even begin to take $500 refundable reservation deposits for the Mach-E.

Toyota will introduce a plug-in version of the RAV4 crossover, the nation’s best-selling vehicle that isn’t a pickup truck. Not to be outdone, Honda will show a hybrid CR-V crossover. The CR-V also is one of the auto market’s biggest sellers. Hyundai will show a crossover concept. Kia is expected to show a new crossover. BMW will make the U.S. debut of a plug-in hybrid X-3 crossover.

Audi will showcase the SportBack version of its new e-tron electric crossover. Bollinger, a startup, will display versions of its electric pickup truck and SUV that are closer to the production models. Volkswagen will show its ID. Space Vizzion, which it describes as “a crossover of tomorrow that combines the aerodynamic characteristics of a Gran Turismo with the spaciousness of an SUV.”

TESLA PICKUP TRUCK

And finally, Tesla is using L.A.’s auto week to reveal the prototype of its long-awaited pickup truck at a separate event in nearby Hawthorne, Calif. The Tesla reveal takes place just a block from where Ford will debut the Mach-E.

Although no one’s predicting the quick demise of internal combustion vehicles, automakers are pushing into fully-electric and electrified vehicles such as hybrids, to meet increasingly stringent global environmental regulations. They also are watching the success of Tesla in California and Norway and other regions with green-conscious consumers. The companies want to have products that can compete.

“EVs are coming whether people want them or not,” said Michael Ramsey, senior automotive research director at Gartner Inc.

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on the technology, pressed into action by global C02 regulations and encouraged by the success of Tesla, especially in the luxury segment, Ramsey said.

However, the industry should see a caution flag in the declining sales in China after a reduction in government incentives, he said.

“EVs still struggle to compete with internal combustion engine vehicles. Ultimately, these companies have to design vehicles that are better than ICE vehicles. They have to be faster, more powerful, quieter, loaded with tech and easy to own. And they need to signal to friends and neighbors that the owner is cool, and not just green,” Ramsey said.

FORD MUSTANG MACH-E

That’s what Ford is attempting with the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. It plans to leverage Mustang’s long history as a sporty and stylish model by using its design elements for the EV.

The company hasn’t released any information about the Mach-E in advance of its reveal. But its executives have consistently pitched the theme that electric vehicles needn’t be boring.

ford mach e sketch

Ford released this sketch of the Mach E with its upcoming release date.

“It starts with showcasing the benefits of the electric propulsion system, including the decision to take advantage of the benefits of instant torque — a fancy term that means electric vehicles can accelerate like hell if you want,” Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director for electrification, wrote in a recent blog post.

“We’re investing in an electric vehicle platform with the right system power, motors, suspension, and tuning to get something really special that people would love to have,” Cannis said.

Ford believes if it can get its internal combustion car customers into the seat of the electric vehicles, they will like what they find.

“The truth is that when you drive an electric vehicle, you may never have to stop at a gas station again — except if you want beef jerky,” he said. Most owners charge at home and never venture to a public charging station.

Spy photographers caught the Mach E in what appears to be production-ready mode.

Testing of what appears to be the Mustang Mach-E.

Expect the Mach E to have a significant range between charging.

“We are giving our vehicles bigger batteries so that you can be confident and comfortable. It means we’re creating better software designed to maximize range for when you need it,” Cannis said.

Ford also plans to give its customers access to a network with thousands of charging points across the country.

TOYOTA RAV4 PLUG-IN HYBRID

Toyota will unveil what it claims is the most powerful RAV4 yet. The automaker also is making a nod toward performance and excitement. It said the RAV4 plug-in hybrid would have “surprising performance capabilities.”

toyota rav4-plug-in

RAV4 plug-in hybrid

“Unlike any other, the new RAV4 plug-in hybrid will be celebrated by its spirited acceleration, nimble handling and impeccable style,” Toyota said. Like Ford with the Mach-E, Toyota is waiting for the show to reveal more information about the RAV4.

HYUNDAI CROSSOVER CONCEPT

Hyundai will unveil a plug-in hybrid SUV concept at the show. It has not released details, but it could hint at the design direction of a new model. Like other automakers, crossovers and SUVs are now Hyundai’s most popular vehicles. It introduced the Palisade, its three-row flagship, SUV in Los Angeles a year ago.

Though not crossovers, Hyundai also will debut its upgraded 2020 Ioniq electrified compact sedans.

VOLKSWAGEN ID. SPACE VIZZION

Based on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Matrix, or MEB, the ID. Space Vizzion is a global electric vehicle that will be modified by market. The version that will debut at the L.A. Auto Show will look more like a station wagon. But when it reaches dealers in the U.S., it will morph into a crossover. VW said its MEB platform allows the automaker “to fully exploit the technical possibilities of e-mobility and guarantees long ranges, dynamic driving performance and a whole new level of digital networking.”

ID. Space Vizzion

VW ID. Space Vizzion

The crossover will offer a range of 300 miles, making it competitive with Tesla models.

VW is carrying the green theme into the cabin. The materials are made from sustainable raw materials, such as the new AppleSkin — a vegan alternative to leather. It will have a wholly digitized cockpit.

“The ID. Space VIzzion is a concept for the future but is not a dream. The production version will be released in late 2021, and will come in different versions for North America, Europe and China,” Volkswagen said.

KIA SELTOS CROSSOVER

Kia has a press conference scheduled for Wednesday. The automaker isn’t revealing details, but TheKoreanCarBlog says it will show the Seltos gasoline crossover Kia unveiled earlier this year. Kia has said it will be a global vehicle. It plans to start sales in Korea late this year. Other markets will follow.

The crossover, which could have a different name for the U.S. market, slots between Kia’s Soul and the Sportage models. It’s likely to have a small four-cylinder engine and possibly a turbocharged option.

Kia Seltos crossover

Kia Seltos crossover

Kia has described the Seltos as “a technologically advanced and refined compact SUV equipped with a range of market and world-first features designed to make driving safer and less stressful.”

For example, the crossover has a large 10.25-inch infotainment system that has advanced split-screen functionality. That allows users to control or monitor numerous vehicle features at the same time and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously, Kia said.

An optional feature is what Kia calls a “Sound Mood Lighting” system. It emits soft light from panels in the doors and includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting feature pulses in time to the beat of music playing through the audio system. It uses eight colors and six themes to illuminate the cabin.

The Seltos also offers Kia’s UVO Connect telematics system, which updates traffic and weather during the driving. It even has stolen vehicle notification and tracking, safety alerts, auto collision notification and emergency assistance.

BOLLINGER

Start-up electric truck maker Bollinger Motors will show its battery-electric B1 SUV and B2 pickup at the show. Last month, the nascent automaker released pricing for the vehicles. They will start at $125,000.

Bollinger B1 SUV

Bollinger B1 SUV

Bollinger has spent the past four years developing the modular aluminum trucks. Production of the two vehicles is slated to begin in 2020. Retail deliveries will start in 2021, founder Robert Bollinger said.

The four-door, four-seat trucks, which share most components, are all-wheel drive work and sport vehicles. They feature up to 20 inches of ground clearance and 200 miles of range. They will have a 2.5-ton payload capacity, according to the company’s specifications.

HONDA CR-V HYBRID

The Honda CR-V hybrid debuts as the automaker works to bring hybrid-electric technology to its core vehicles. The crossover is its best-seller and one of the most popular cars in the U.S.

honda-cvr-hybrid

Honda CR-V hybrid

Honda says the hybrid will offer improved fuel efficiency while maintaining a balance of interior space, driving dynamics and comfort. The CR-V uses the two-motor hybrid powertrain of the Accord Hybrid. It combines two electric motors with a 2-liter gas engine. The system produces up to 212 horsepower. Honda said it will get 50 percent better fuel economy in city driving, but Honda did not provide expected mpg numbers.

The CR-V Hybrid also is the first application of all-wheel drive to Honda’s two-motor hybrid system in the U.S. When available traction is low, an electronic clutch activates, sending the appropriate level of power from the electric motor to the rear wheels.

Honda wants two-thirds of its global automobile sales to come from electrified vehicles by 2030.

Jerry Hirsch November 5, 2019
Chevrolet showed a 1962 C-10 pickup truck converted to an electric vehicle at SEMA to demonstrate there is room for automotive enthusiasts in the transition to green transport.

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