The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: The Cadillac of tomorrow is...the Cadillac of yesterday

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Cadillac is most definitely back and back big time. This isn't a terribly new, new story. But General Motors' luxury brand has brought an utterly gorgeous new concept car to the LA Auto Show. It's called the Ciel. It's a convertible.

And it's the kind of convertible that you might drive through the Elysian Fields. 

Just watch the video above, for the full, breathtaking effect.

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LA Auto Show: Do we have a theme yet?

The 2011 LA Auto Show is in many ways more about what's going to happen with the car business in 2012.
Matthew DeBord

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.

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Occupy LA gets the arrest treatment

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

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!

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

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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