A First Timer’s Trip to the LA Auto Show

Melanie Reiff
· 6 min read
Truth be told, before I began working at
I admittedly knew very little about cars.
I drive a Mazda C3 that I have had since 2013. It’s grey. The finishes are passable. And that’s about all I can tell you about my vehicle.
The last few months have been a crash course in auto industry knowledge, and I now feel that I can talk (moderately) intelligently about cars. So, when I found out that the LA Auto Show was set to take place in November, I jumped at the chance to go and get some more hands-on industry experience.
I’m pleased to say that my education at Jerry has moved beyond
car insurance
and extended into the full world of automobiles, and I could successfully navigate the biggest auto show on the West Coast like a pro.
Here’s what I learned. 

Eye-catching displays

Yes, that's a real-life Barbie car.
Upon entering the Los Angeles Convention Center, my eye was captured by the sparkly, silver car with doors shaped like wings and pink, fuzzy headrests. Not a bad start.
This one-off car was owned by the one and only Barbie—a life-sized, fully functioning, and electric Fiat 500e meant to replicate a Barbie car on sale exclusively at Wal-Mart. It even came complete with a mini pool in the back. With speakers bumping and the top-down, this car was here for the party.
Other automakers didn’t have quite the same bling on their vehicles, but many of them spared no expense when creating their displays. Subaru, for example, built a treehouse to frame their all-new Solterra. The new electric crossover was perched on a platform in front of a projected landscape, taking the car through different seasons—it even had fake snow!
Some manufacturers leaned into their car’s name to create their display theme. Ford chose to feature their new F150-Lightning on a rotating platform accompanied by a background of thunder and, yes, lightning. Meanwhile, the Fisker Ocean stood in front of a moving picture of the ocean.
As a newcomer to the show who is easily overwhelmed, I was drawn in by the theatrics of bigger displays and spent more time exploring the offerings of those manufacturers.
While the nearby Jeep display featured a variety of new vehicles, some with complete redesigns, it didn’t have the same gravitas as Ford, so I spent less time learning about their releases. 
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Electric vehicle focus 

Electrify America
” was a prominent sponsor of this year’s auto show, electric vehicles were the focus for many traditional and start-up auto manufacturers. Most automakers showcased an electric vehicle—or at least a plug-in hybrid—many of whom had been resistant to electric cars in the past.
Part of the push to an electric focus from traditional automakers was the competition from up-and-coming brands like Fisker, Mullen, and VinFast—all of whom had prominent displays touting the environmental benefits of an electric future.
Hyundai—who debuted their highly anticipated Seven Concept—even brought a model of their Hyundai Home set up, which is an energy ecosystem designed to harness solar energy to create an eco-friendly living environment.
Because of the emphasis on electric vehicles, it was notable when an automaker didn’t showcase an EV. Popular brands like Lexus and Chevrolet didn’t bring an electric option, making it seem like their technology was lagging behind the competition.
As someone who is cognizant of the need to reduce carbon emissions, I’m looking for brands that put a priority on fighting climate change.
I became more interested in the brands that were recognizing the need to make the switch (Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia both proudly displayed their goal to be carbon neutral by 2045)—many of which I wouldn’t have considered before the show. 

Test rides

Perhaps the most fun part of the
LA Auto Show
was the chance to ride in several debuting vehicles.
Ford showcased their new Mustang Mach-E, an electric version of the popular car, and touted the vehicle’s ability to accelerate from 0-60 in just seconds. While the track didn’t allow for an acceleration to quite that speed, the 0-30 acceleration was enough to get my heart pumping and appreciate the smooth ride of the vehicle.
Likewise, Ram showcased its truck’s increased handling ability, particularly on steep inclines or grades. I didn’t expect to be driving at a 45-degree angle in a massive truck so comfortably!
While the Electrify America EV track wasn’t open until the general admissions days, it was fun to get a chance to test out a few cars, learn a bit more about how technology is evolving, and get a first-hand glimpse into the future of driving. 

Noticeable absences from big names in the industry

Even though it was my first time at the LA Auto Show, it became quite apparent that this outing was more toned down than in years past—in part because of the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The typically announcement-heavy press days only had one day of reveals, and big-time automakers chose to sit out this year’s event.
BMW and Mercedes were notably missing, and Volvo, Mazda, and Honda only had showings as a part of Galpin’s dealership display—which in itself was unusual for the event. The absent automakers meant that the manufacturers who were present had more room to showcase their vehicles, and newcomers who would typically be in auxiliary rooms had prime spots on the main show floor.
I couldn’t compare the layout to any previous events, but wandering through the show did feel rather empty. It will be interesting to see how auto shows continue to adapt in the wake of the prolonged pandemic.

Final thoughts on the LA Auto Show

Though the LA Auto Show was lacking some of the grandeur of previous years, I was still captivated by the whole event. 
Perhaps it was the focus on electric vehicles, signifying an industry recognition of the need to combat climate change, or being greeted by Barbie’s car, there was an excitement in the air surrounding new innovations and the future of the automobile industry.  I’m grateful to
for preparing me with an understanding of the industry, and I left even more excited to explore the future of cars, driving, and car ownership.

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