Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: German performance and Italian style in Porsche Cayman and Fiat 500e

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

Fiat unveils its all-electric 500e at the LA Auto Show. The wee two-door will get 80 miles per charge, Fiat claims.

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

The "L" in the Fiat's 500L is for "large." It was unveiled at the LA Auto Show and will take on the MINI Countryman.

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

Fiat's topless 500c Abarth, a convertible version of its performance-tuned mini-car, was revealed at the LA Auto Show.

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

What's missing from my Fiat 500 Abarth? Could it be...the roof?

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

The 2014 Porsche Cayman makes its debut at the LA Auto Show. You could call it the entry-level Porsche, but if you did, you'd need to remember that there really is no such thing as an entry-level Porsches. All Porsches are end unto themselves.

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

The 2014 Porsche Cayman at the LA Auto Show. With the revamp, it's gotten a bit bigger.

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Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

The 2014 Porsche Cayman looks just as good in severe metallic gray as it does in jubilant sunflower yellow.

Porsche usually gets a room at the L.A. Auto Show. Seriously. Rather than joining the rest of the automotive world in the big exhibition halls, Porsche does its "there is no substitute thing" in a smaller hall. It's the Chamber of Porsche. It's Porscheworld and it has been for a while. 

Fiat, on the other hand, is in the process of returning to the U.S. market for the first time in decades. Why? Because Fiat and Chrysler are joined, a consequence of the bailout and bankruptcy of the smallest of the Detroit Big Three automakers in 2009. Fiat is currently selling one car, the stylish 500, an update of an iconic postwar set of Italian wheels. Initial sales were  slow, but the car has been doing much better of late.

So why not roll out some new versions? That's exactly what Fiat has done Wednesday at the L.A. Auto Show, with an electric model, the 500e. The company claims it'll deliver 80 miles per charge. That's about where other EVs in the market are, so the 500e can join the tussle with the likes of the Nissan Leaf and the Honda Fit EV.