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2002 Los Angeles Show, Part III


2002 Los Angeles Auto Show logo

2002 Los Angeles Auto Show logo

2002 Los Angeles Auto Show by TCC Team (1/3/2002)


sponsored by Toyota

 

WAGONS HO!

2002 Volvo Performance Concept Car 2

2002 Volvo Performance Concept Car 2

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Is the much-maligned station wagon making a comeback? First shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn and now in Los Angeles, Volvo’s Performance Car Concept 2 is unabashedly described as a wagon, though product development director Lars Erik Lundgren would like to find another way to describe it. “We struggled for years and years for a name replacing ‘wagon,’ because of the negative connotations,” he admits. “We couldn’t find a better name.” Ford, on the other hand, went with the name, “Fusion,” for one of the prototypes it has displayed in the City of Angels. Design chief J Mays stresses that tomorrow’s wagons won’t have much in common with the big bruisers that dominated the road in the ‘60s. They’ll be more functional, as well as stylish, incorporating attributes of SUVs, such as “command seating” and all-wheel-drive. And automakers will likely to seek other names for their wagon-like creations. But whatever they’re called, Lundgren says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rejuvenation of the wagon” among Gen X and Gen Y buyers who don’t have all the negative images of the Leave it to Beaver generation.

 

2002 Ford Fusion Concept

2002 Ford Fusion Concept

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FORD BREWS COOL FUSION
Ford’s Fusion Concept is just barely that. It’s a thinly disguised version of the tall five-door production vehicle that will take a bow in Geneva this coming spring. Based off the same platform as the new Ford Fiesta, it appears significantly larger, partly due to its height, yet is far more stylish than the Japanese tall wagons of years past. The Fusion features a 1.1-liter direct injection gasoline engine, bi-xenon headlamps, which are twice as bright as normal lamps, all-wheel-drive and an array of multimedia equipment onboard. Though the production model is slated for sale in Europe, the show car is in L.A. for a very specific reason, according to Ford design chief J Mays. If the reaction is strong, “there is the possibility of bringing it in” to the U.S. What brand badge it would wear is unclear. Rather than aiming at an American model at the entry-level market, Mays hinted, Ford could load it with content and add it to the lineup “of one of our luxury brands.”

 

2002 Ford TH!NK City EV

2002 Ford TH!NK City EV

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FORD TRIES TO TH!NK AGAIN
Ford also formally pulled the wraps off the second model in its “green” Th!nk brand’s lineup. The City is a slightly bigger and more traditional vehicle than the golf cart-like Neighbor, which was launched last year. The City is aimed at urban users who won’t travel far but want something flexible, nimble and clean for around-town use. The battery vehicle gets up to 50 miles on a charge, and a top speed of 60 mph. It boasts a number of safety features, including frontal airbags. Other potentials markets include government agencies and corporate fleets.

 

2002 Kia Trophy Truck Racer

2002 Kia Trophy Truck Racer

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KIA GOES TROPHY HUNTING
Korean carmaker Kia has posted some impressive sales gains in recent years, including a 39-percent jump last year, bringing its American volume to 223,000, its seventh consecutive annual record. (Korean carmakers, as a group, saw sales top a record 600,000 for 2001.) The sibling division to Korea’s giant Hyundai, Kia has also been a strong contender in off-road racing in recent years. Now the carmaker is gunning for big game, the Score Desert Series. It brought its new Trophy Truck racer to Los Angeles, along with its new team leader, off-road champ Darren Skilton. The monstrous, mean-looking one-seater weighs in at just 3500 pounds, a definite advantage in a heavyweight class, and a fact that Kia hopes will overcome its relatively limited power—350 hp from a new 3.5-liter V-6.


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