For a number of years now, we have visited the annual San Francisco car show to check out the latest in car tech. It’s not a big show on the circuit, and we’re certainly not expecting any big reveals, but it has been a fun day out for us and the kids (especially the kids, who love climbing into all the cars).
This year I’m sad to say I was a little disappointed. Not with the show’s organizers (although two of the Moscone “security” staff were rude to us before we had even entered the show floor). It was the car companies themselves that disappointed me.
As I’ve been writing here for a while now, I’m looking at a number of electric cars that are expected in the next 12-24 months. Concept versions of all of them have been shown at other car shows in the last year. Some are rumored to be very close to production. And yet I asked Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi and Porsche about their electric plans and none of them had anything to show or even say about them. In one case, what I was told at the show contradicted information I’ve already been sent by the company’s marketing department.
If these companies are as committed to electric cars as they make out, would it not have been smart to have something to show? If they could not get their hands on the actual concept car, at least have a display, or videos, or something.
The only electric cars I found on the show floor are already available in dealer showrooms in the Bay Area today, so there’s really no need to pay for admission to a car show to see them. In fact, the only cars at the show of any kind were already available in dealer showrooms.
One luxury car company was missing entirely (and has never been there in my memory): Tesla. For sure, they’ve perhaps not had much reason to spend marketing dollars on shows when those interested in buying one will find a showroom, but assuming the competition gets its act together, and EVs move more into the mainstream, they might need to consider it. It was noticeable that all the brands they compete with were present. Showing off the Model 3 or the new roadster would have made them the talk of the show – and this is their home territory, so it would be a natural fit.
Adding Insult to Injury
An article in the Detroit News about the Los Angeles car show, which runs this week, stated:
Luxury automakers like BMW and Mercedes will display new, EV-focused product lines here — the i-line and EQ-line, respectively — as they try meeting government requirements and compete with California electric start-up Tesla. Even retro-brand Mini Cooper will debut an EV concept.
In fact, a Jaguar rep had told me they were expecting to have the I-Pace concept vehicle in L.A.
So, why not in S.F. too? Alternative fuel vehicles sell well in the Bay Area, as evidenced by the number of Teslas, Leafs, e500s and i3s I see on the roads here. Even the little electric B Class I have is surprisingly common here (I’ve seen two others in my neighborhood alone). Or is that perhaps the reason – they know we will buy them anyway, so why bother?