By Jeff Gilbert

LOS ANGELES (WWJ) – The LA Auto Show getting off to a good start, with a record number of new products, and word that November could end up as the best sales month of the year.

INTERVIEW: WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert talks with GM North America President Mark Reuss

“The product offerings, if you walk around this show from all the OEM’s including ourselves, are products of quality, design and customer enthusiasm that, quite frankly, the industry has never seen before,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss.

General Motors showing off an electric version of the Chevy Spark, as Ford unveiled its new Fiesta and Transit Connect Wagon. All of these are vehicles shown to the media even before the show began.

Chrysler’s Fiat brand stealing the spotlight, with a number of variants of the Fiat 500, and a series of sexy commercials. One of the most eagerly awaited Fiat’s is the 500L, a larger, four door version of the small car.

The Chrysler group also announcing that it’s bringing back another classic name, the Daytona, for a limited edition version of the Charger.

The show comes as a strong Thanksgiving weekend propels November sales to new heights, with many predictions that we could see a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Sales Rate (SAAR) of 15 million, for the first time since before the recession.

“We think it’s going to very close to that,” said Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland. “Certainly the industry appears to be quite buoyant here in November.”

Much of that comes as sales that were delayed by October’s big storm, were pushed into November, and as people who saw their vehicles damaged went out and bought replacements.
“It’s particularly strong in the Northeast, as the area recovers from Sandy,” said Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields.

But Fields, who becomes Ford’s Chief Operating Officer at the end of this week, said there’s more than just replacement demand.

“I think across the country, we’re seeing very steady improvement in the retail industry as consumer not only see their vehicles age, but also they see the increased fuel economy of new vehicles.”
The LA Auto Show also featuring a lot of high-end cars, including a new Range Rover, updated Bentleys and some all new Porsche models. It also had a buzz that has grown steadily since the 2008 show, which coincided with the American carmakers request for government aid.

“What a difference it is today, when you’ve got a lot of vitality,” said IHS Automotive Analyst Aaron Bragman. “You’ve got a lot of new product.”


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