The 2011 LA Auto Show is in many ways more about what's going to happen with the car business in 2012.
Yesterday, on KPCC's AirTalk, I said that the 2011 LA Auto Show would be about the revival of the small car in America — by American automakers! — and the return of Detroit, after the worst couple of years in its history. You know, that whole bailout-bankruptcy thing.
The mood at the actual show is more one of expectation. On balance, while 2011 was a lot better than 2009, it was a dismal year by the historical standards of the auto industry. Even setting aside the major disruption of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which created a crisis in the global automotive supply chain, the industry is on track to sell only about 13 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. this year.
Contrast that with the 17 million it sold in 2005.
The hope is that the worst has passed and that 2012 will see the market return to something that more closely resembles normal, even it's a New Normal of around 14-15 million new cars sold in North America.