Nov. 29 - Automakers show-off new lines of green cars with an added emphasis on beauty and style at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Competition is fierce in the auto industry and at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, automakers are fine-tuning their products on all fronts from technology to efficiency to horsepower. But the overall theme continues to be innovation of the "green" kind. Organizers say there are two dozen all-electric or plug-in models on display. Fiat, building on its small-car success, now has the "500e" model, an all-electric version of its popular mini-car. The Italian parent company of Chrysler is hoping to add some glamour to the growing electric car market, says chief marketing officer Olivier Francois. (SOUNDBITE) OLIVIER FRANCOIS, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, FIAT, SAYING (English): "Fun, I would even say, 'sexiness.' Why would an electric car be an electric appliance that brings you to point A to point B. When you can enjoy and have fun and it can look good." Fun. Maybe that's what General Motors had in mind with the Chevy Spark. This all-electric car reflects a natural progression in the move to a more eco-friendly line-up, says GM's Pamela Fletcher. (SOUNDBITE) PAMELA FLETCHER, CHIEF ENGINEER FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES, GM, SAYING (English): "For us, a progression to add this car to our fleet, is natural. Our idea is to expand on providing a host of solutions for people who truly want to be able to reduce their gas consumption, emissions free. So, I see that adoption rate, enabled by the Volt and enabled by the Spark and grow over time." Green or not, it looks like auto industry is poised to re-accelerate. Analysts and executives expect auto sales to rebound in November, potentially hitting their strongest pace in more than four years, as people in the Northeast return to dealerships after super storm Sandy hurt demand in late October. November sales should also get a boost from pent-up demand by drivers replacing their aging cars and trucks.