Explaining Southern California's economy

Occupy LA gets the arrest treatment

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

An Occupy protester being arrested following a planned disobedience, blocking traffic at Figueroa and Fourth in downtown Los Angeles.

It was only a matter of time. I'm at the LA Auto Show, not far from where police in riot gear are currently breaking up an Occupy LA demonstration and arresting protesters in downtown LA. You can tell something its going down due to the numerous hovering helicopters.

KPCC's Frank Stoltze and Corey Moore are reporting from the scene.

You have to give it to LA — at least they did this is broad daylight, in response to a demonstration. Contrast this will New York, where Occupy Wall Street got rousted from Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night.

The Occupy LA emcampment at City Hall, meanwhile, looks calm and orderly, as it has for more than a month.

The Occupy Movement is two months old today. I'll have more to say on this later, but it's clearly entered a new phase. The protesters are upping the ante. Wall Stree itself is...too preoccupied with the eurozone crisis to care. So it's left for the authorities to manage what has become the biggest American protest movement since the Vietnam War was ongoing.

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LA Auto Show: More Priuses than you know what to do with!

The Toyota Prius defines "hybrid" in the popular consciousness. If you live in LA, chances are very good that you've owned a Prius, want to own a Prius, will soon own a Prius, have ridden in a Prius, or will soon ride in a Prius. If you're none of the the above, you probably have a Prius or three or eleven in your neighborhood.

I should add that the Prius is the default automobile of public radio, so I'm obligated to visit its home at the LA Auto Show. I used to be obligated to visit Volvo and Subaru, but times change!

A look what I discovered! Every since it arrived on these shores in the early 2000s, there has been basically one Prius model. Now, suddenly, there's a whole happy Prius family. The Prius V is a larger, more wagon-like version of the original. The plug-in Prius allows owners to recharge the car's battery, rather that relying on hybrid gas-electric mode. 

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The coolest cars in town, in pictures

Cadillac-Ciel-MDB

Matthew DeBord

Cadillac's Ciel concept convertible is old school but drop-dead gorgeous. Luxury with the top down rarely looks this smashing.

Hot-Wheels-Camaro-MDB

Matthew DeBord

It's a Hot Wheels Camaro, complete with the track. Yes, a Hot Wheels Camaro. For the kid in all of us...

Mercedes-Gull-MDB

Matthew DeBord

Mercedes brought back the gullwing doors and the public swooned. Matt DeBord swoons over the English racing green color. I've seen enough silver and black Mercedes.

Mustang-Boss-302-MDB

Matthew DeBord

The Ford Mustang Boss 302 may, just may, be the finest Mustang every created by human hands on Planet Earth. A revival of a 1970 classic, it's sure to draw some crowds when the 2011 LA Auto Show opens to the public — and it proves that Ford can still do it's most famous car better than ever, even when it's evoking the past.

Infiniti-IPL-Convert-MDB

Matthew DeBord

There's no shortage of convertibles at the 2011 LA Auto Show. This is Infiniti's new IPL, which should appear in showrooms in late 2012.

Matthew DeBord

Don't think cool cars can some in small packages? No so. The new Chevy Sonic is proof that General Motors can finally do a tiny ride that looks commands attention.

Smarts-MDB

Matthew DeBord

How many Smart cars can you pack into the LA Auto Show? Quite a few.

Where's-Ferrari-MDB

Matthew DeBord

Think Los Angeles is a true Ferrari town? Think again. This is where the Italian Stallions are supposed to be. But yet again, Ferrari has skipped the LA Auto Show.


What are car shows like the LA Auto Show all about? Sure, there are plain old sedans and minivans and pickup trucks. But there's also some hotter fare. Much hotter fare.

The LA Show gives automakers a chance to show off what they've got, in a city that's always had a love affair with the automobile. Run through the slide show for a sampling of some thrilling rides that you'll definitely want to check out when you come down to show this weekend or next week (it opens to the public on Friday, Nov. 18).

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LA Auto Show: The great Buick comeback

Not long ago, Buick had been basically left for dead. Bob Lutz, the legendary product czar at General Motors, infamously called Buick and its now-deceased stablemate, Pontiac, "damaged brands." Everyone though that Buick was, no offense intended, a car for the AARP set. And the demographics didn't lie: the average age of a Buick owner in the mid-2000s was 65.

A lot of carmakers would have sent Buick — which had always been a mid-luxury brand, a stepping stone on the way to lordly Cadillac in the GM hierarchy — to that big junkyard in the sky, to join Oldsmobile, a brand that GM had already taken off life support.

Problem was, Buick was big — very big — in China.

In fact, it was the cornerstone of GM's whole China strategy, both before and after the 2009 bailout and bankruptcy of the company. GM's U.S. business may have been in decline from the Golden Age 1950s, when it held half the market. But in China, business was booming.

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Live-blogging the LA Auto Show

BMW Offers Previews Two New Electric Concept Vehicles

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Update: I spent a some time talking about the show with Larry Mantle on Airtalk this morning, with Eddie Alterman of Car and Driver and Ed Hellwig of Edmunds Inside Line. Check it out.

I'll be roaming the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show for the next two days, checking out new cars, green cars, concept cars, and the business of cars in Southern California. I'll also be tweeting, so if you want to follow me, check out my Twitter feeds, below.

Look for photos, insights, and even some video. The LA Auto Show is the first big car show for the global industry, kicking off a season that runs for months and travels around the world.

The industry has taken its share of lumps over the past few years. The financial crisis nearly killed both Chrysler and General Motors — and seriously threatned Ford — but the Big Three are back, racking up profits quarter after quarter. 

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