Photography by Evan Sears, Cars.com
In the wake of the press days at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, we've cleaned off our desk and found a few notes that we made during press events, media lunches and time spent in the media office. We're passing some of them along to you.
We don't a get a world debut of a pickup truck very often, but it was nice to see so many people excited about the fact that GM is rolling the dice and hoping to inject some energy into a segment — the midsize pickup truck — that's been stagnating for several decades. We want to stay optimistic about the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, but it wouldn't take much change in the economy, fuel prices or in the competition to suck a lot of potential wind from the Colorado's (or GMC Canyon's) sails. This midsize truck does not share its platform with any other vehicle and can only be made in one manufacturing facility. In fact, there is almost nothing shared with the global truck of the same name. That's got to be expensive. Still, getting it to the right buyers at the right price could jump-start the small truck market. There were (and probably still are) plenty of places where GM could have cut corners or pulled back from this decision, so we're impressed and thankful the company decided to dive in.
This year Ford didn't have a single pickup inside the convention center for media days, but it did have a huge display area outside, complete with a radio-control dirt track with a host of RC Raptors and F-150s. The truck that caught our eye was one of the original 2011 F-150 test trucks for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine; it's owned by a California farmer and has more than 150,000 miles on it. We'll have a chance to drive this exact truck soon and will see just much punch is lost over time due to its brutal duty cycle.
Possibly our second favorite truck of the show (the Colorado was a pretty big deal) was the latest edition of the Via Motors VTrux. Via just opened a plant in Mexico near the GM Silverado/Sierra plant in Silao and is taking delivery of GM's new 2014 half-ton trucks to swap in Via's proprietary powertrains. Those powertrains offer up to 40 miles of electric-only driving, with another 300 or so from the energy generated from a new EcoTec3 4.3-liter V-6 engine; the engine's sole purpose is to charge the lithium-Ion battery pack underneath the truck.
We love the idea of having your own onboard power generator for camping trips or emergency power generation for homes or offices right on the truck. The Via pickups are plug-in ready and still capable of towing 5,000 pounds. New this year, Via also is offering options like a mild suspension lift, unique wheels and tires, and a full-size solar panel built right into a tonneau bed cover. The cover comes in 400- or 800-watt configurations and can fully charge the batteries, we're told, in just three days. The cost of the cover is about $2,000. The cost of a fully equipped Via pickup is about $79,000. Fleets and commercial truck buyers are the obvious first adopters here, but there's no reason why, as this technology gets less expensive and people understand how the fuel savings work, more general consumers won't want one as well.
We always hit the aftermarket hall at the L.A. Auto Show, where we love to search for the playboys from Southern California builders. We saw some familiar big trucks like the Tonka T4 Super Duty, as well as some other wild and crazy trucks. Every year is a little bit different, but the show is always worth the trip. For more information on the current L.A. Auto Show, running through Dec. 1, click here.