The L.A. Auto Show is back and will return to the Los Angeles Convention Center from Nov. 19 to 28. Ahead of the event, Angeleno spoke to its president and CEO, Lisa Kaz, about what to expect, the focus on electric vehicles and all the fun activations. Read more below.
The show is finally back and quickly approaching! What are you looking forward to?
It's been a two year hiatus and we are so happy to be opening the doors... The only time the show has not run in over 100 years has been World War I, World War II and COVID.
The show has been around for 100 plus years. It really has been an outgrowth of the car culture in this city and the show is very festival-like, it's a family event. You have a million square feet of indoor and outdoor activations, from L.A.'s best food trucks to Ford Bronco is having a mountain activation where you can drive up a mountain. Jeep has another outdoor activation that'll be really cool, very adventuresome. And so you've got these outdoor really fun, experiential things to do, as well as pet adoption.
It's really just an event for the whole family, not just if you're in the market for a vehicle, although four out of five attendees tend to be in the market or say they're in the market for a new car over the next 12 months. But it's a real family event. And what we find is that in our research, 83% of people, the vast majority of people who attend the show, attended at least every other year, so it's a real family tradition over the generations in Los Angeles because also we're right during the holidays.
Can you tell us about the decision to highlight electric vehicles, particularly with the ZEVAS Awards?
We've been noticing this trend for a number of years— the electrification trend— and it really is the biggest transition in the auto industry in 100 years. And it's going to change everything in the auto industry. So we've been watching this happen more slowly, but over the past year, maybe year and a half, Newsom came out with the mandate that by 2035 all new vehicles sold have to be ZEV (zero emissions vehicles). And then the recent infrastructure bill is setting a goal for half of all vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2030. And then locally In L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti set a goal that 25% of all vehicles in the city of LA will be electric or zero-emission by 2025. That's a massive transition considering the numbers that L.A. has currently seen are really low, like one or 2%. So to get to 25%, there's going to have to be a lot of education. Most people have never sat in an electric vehicle, much less driven one. And so we’ve sort of been percolating for a number of years: how can we help educate the public and show the public about these new vehicles that will be transforming the auto industry? So it seemed like an awards program would be an effective way to really provide a resource to those who are interested.
One of the things with our awards is it's also a compilation of all the information in one place. So not only will the public be able to vote, be able to have links to every electric field vehicle that is available for sale or pre-order right now, but also, a lot of them will be on display and a lot of them they'll be able to test drive at the show. Once people get in an electric vehicle, you know, it's a powerful experience for them. So I think the awards program just helps get that information out there and provides a wonderful resource that I think the public is hungry for.
What other trends are going on in the auto industry?
One trend that came out recently that really surprised me is Cars.com found that 85% of car purchases were influenced by women and that 62% actually were purchased by women. I did not know that women played such a significant role. I knew they played a role, perhaps a significant role, but I did not realize how significant it was and is. So that's a new trend that I think the automakers are embracing more and focusing more on. Obviously, with the younger generation coming up and the younger generation are more tech savvy and the younger generation skews towards electric more than the older generations, so that's kind of interesting. And those are changes. The women having such a strong role definitely was not the case when I got into this business.
My grandfather ran the auto show for like 50 years. He was in the auto show business in Chicago, Los Angeles and several other big cities throughout the country. And so I came on board in 1987 and it was definitely very, very few women who were in the auto industry. But it's also in the event industry, which has had women playing significant roles for a long time. So being part of both industries, women continue to show that they can head an organization and really lead a team in ways that were not happening so much 20 years ago. So for the younger generation coming up, I think they have a lot more opportunities because there's women in front of them.
What is exciting about the present and future of cars?
With these electric vehicles, they're really computers on wheels. The technology in them is significantly different than the gas-powered cars. There's a lot more room because there's no engine and so the car has a lot more storage, but they run on computers.
And the large screens are not just to have better sort of visibility. The cars have got games, they've got entertainment, as well as security. One thing that is also a trend that we're seeing happen, and Tesla has done this for a number of years, is the over-the-air updates. So when the car is really a computer on wheels, you can have those updates just sent to you in the middle of the night or at any time.
Cars are pretty amazing today. The technology in them, the safety features, the ability to self park. I'm not a car person, I’m a tech person. I love technology. So as the cars continue to improve, and technology can do more things like driver assist technologies, they're more enjoyable to drive for me. I know a lot of people like much more traditional cars, even with the stick shift. It's been two years since the show has happened and if you think about two years worth of technology, I mean, the technology didn't stop. The auto show stopped, live events stopped, but technology was still happening during this whole time. It will be very interesting this year to see all the latest innovations that each of the OEMs ( original equipment manufacturer) will be showcasing. It's going to be really interesting.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photography by: Courtesy LA Auto Show