2003 L.A. Auto Show, Part II Page 3

January 3, 2003

Mitsubishi intends to expand its presence in the compact sports car segment and its turning to its international performance division, Ralliart. Look for an expanded presence in motor sports, Ralliart variants off a number of Mitsu products, including the Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder, along with an expanded line of performance and appearance parts.

2003 Kia Sorento Surf

2003 Kia Sorento Surf

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Is there a market for a pair of surf specials from Korean carmaker Kia? That’s what the automaker intends to find out by closely watching reaction to two concepts it pulled into the L.A. Convention Center. The Sorento Surf is a splashy spin-off of the hot new Kia SUV, while the Cinco Swim is a version of the Rio wagon. Along with the bad pun, the wagon boasts a navigation system, and a neoprene interior that’s easy to clean out, especially with the standard air hose and pump. The Surf gets blacked-out headlights, a skid plate, ripple-mesh grille, a roof rack and the neoprene interior. The goal, said a Kia official, is to come up with targeted niche spin-offs of mainstream Kia products. Reaction in the coming months will determine whether the Cinco Swim and Surf join the line-up.


Lights. Camera. Cars? While automakers may talk about product, product, product, you can’t escape the Hollywood influence at the L.A. Auto Show, as was apparent at multiple news conferences.On Thursday Dodge used a movie theater theme, passing out candy, using theater seats and playing movie trailers, leading up to a trailer featuring Dieter Zetsche and other DaimlerChrysler managers. On Friday, both Mazda and Mitsubishi also used movie themes, showing clips of two movie sequels that will features their cars and also rolling out Hollywood stars.

2003 Mazda RX-8 X-Men car

2003 Mazda RX-8 X-Men car

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Mazda’s news conference seemed a reprise of Dodge’s. Reporters sat on theater seats and were offered concession stand snacks of popcorn, candy and drinks served in capped cups with straws. The movie theme was used to introduce the RX-8 X-Men Car, which will be featured in X2, the upcoming sequel to X-Men. The movie’s director, Bryan Singer, was driven onstage and interacted with Charlie Hughes, President, Mazda North America. The X-Men Car is painted “Mutant Blue” and includes an X-shaped grille and an enlarged “X” on the nameplate.

Mitsubishi used its news conference to promote its sponsorship of The Fast and Furious 2, which will showcase the Eclipse Spyder and Evo VIII. One of the stars of the movie, Tyrese (one name only, like Madonna and Sting), signed autographs for fawning reporters. Look for Mitsubishi promotional tie-ins with the movie.

Throughout the auto show, Ford Motor Company is staging a Die Another Day display featuring vehicles used in the latest 007 movie: the Aston Martin DB12 Vanquish, Jaguar XK8 and Ford Thunderbird.

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