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#207, Live at the LA Auto Show: Back to the Future, Maybe

The LA Auto Show this year showcased many concept cars. All image © Bruce Aldrich/2021

The LA Auto Show advanced to the second and final media day Thursday and The Weekly Driver Podcast was back in the vehicle showcase halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was a day for a visit back to the future — maybe.

Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia visited with representatives from a variety of concept vehicles, some from established manufacturers, others from new carmakers.

VinFast of Vietnam debut two electric SUV at the LA Auto Show. All iamges © James Raia/2021.
VinFast of Vietnam debuted two electric SUV at the LA Auto Show. All images © James Raia/2021.

As in previous years, concept cars showcased at the LA Auto Show are tentative at best. None of the concept vehicles we viewed and discussed are predicted to be publicly available until at least the fall of 2022.

Some of the vehicles are not expected until as late as 2025. Other EVs, like the Byton, a concept that debuted with Rivian in 2018 and filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, will never be manufactured.

LA Auto Show: Concepts Galore

VinFast, the first “mainstream” manufacturer from Vietnam with plans to distribute two sport utility vehicles in the United States, had the largest presence of the pending electric vehicle manufacturers at the LA Auto Show.

From its unveiling on the opening day of the show to its evening reception and further show presence, VinFast made a committed presence.

According to its marketing, VinFast in Vietnamese stands for Style, Safety, Creativity, Pioneer. It touts its vehicles as the “product of our inspiration to launch a distinctive, world-class automotive brand with Vietnam and demonstrates the ability of the Vietnamese people to skillfully implement cutting-edge technology.”

The Canoo concept family vehicle debued at the LA Auto Show.
The Canoo concept family vehicle debuted at the LA Auto Show.

Like other pending vehicles, VinFast has neither definitive production plans or pricing for its SUV crossovers, the e35 and e36. Both are designed by Italy’s famed Pininfarina.

LA Auto Show: Can You Canoo?

Two names new to the EV marketplace are Canoo and Mullen. The former is promoted as an autonomous “Lifestyle Vehicle.” Its marketing material reads in part: “Fully electric, highly versatile and offering more utility, inside and outside for city explorers, businesses, families and adventurers.”

The Canoo, also touted as a “Loft on Wheels,” is scheduled for late 2022. It’s named the Canoo, according to a company spokesman, because it resembles an upside-down canoe. Its front end and rear look interchangeable.

Canoo, based in Los Angeles, says “there is no need for electric vehicles to look like traditional cars, yet today they still do. Canoo plans to change that.” It did.

Canoo said its first vehicle will have “the exterior footprint of a compact car, with the interior space of a large SUV.”

LA Auto Show: Come Back in 2024

Mullen, based in Brea, California, is promoted as the first “Pure Electric SUV Crossover.” The Five has an estimated range of 325 miles, it’s electronically limited to 155 miles per hour and with an estimated 0-6 mph of 3.2 seconds. It’s not predicted to be manufactured until 2024 will be sold in kiosks called “Lounge Points.”

We also discuss the Hyundai Seven concept, arguably the most unique concept at the show. While the Canoo may be promoted as a loft, the Seven is better defined as a futuristic lounge. It has sterilization lights, newfangled ambient lighting and enough fancy interior to be best-suited for an interior design magazine layout.

Lastly, we chat about the Edison Future and its two luxury concepts, both combinations of utilitarian, off-road, futuristic SUVs, plushly attired and replete with technology overload and 35-inch wheels.

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LA Auto Show: All Podcasts Archived

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The podcast is in its fourth year, and we’ve had a diverse collection of guests — famous athletes, vintage car collectors, manufacturer CEOs, automotive book authors, industry analysts, a movie stuntman and episodes from auto shows and car auctions.

Please send comments and suggestions for new episodes to James Raia via email: [email protected].

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#206, Live From The LA Auto Show: It’s Electric

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