For two sunny, 85-degree days this week, hundreds of auto-industry types and journalists crowded into the Los Angeles Convention Center to see the cars of the future. At press conferences, the words “environment,” “alternative fuels” and “efficiency” were uttered approximately 7,000 times each. But there was no shortage of gas-guzzling performance cars either. For some highlights, launch the gallery.

Smart Rollcage

There to assure wary Americans that these tiny cars aren’t rolling death traps was the Smart car’s “tridion safety cell,” which is a fancy way to say roll cage.

Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

Thanks to its two-mode hybrid technology, this 6.0-liter, full-size SUV was named Green Car of the Year yesterday at the auto show. Is this a sign of the apocalypse? Perhaps.

Volvo Recharge

To my mind, this could be the car of the future. A “hot hatch” based on the C30 platform, the Volvo Recharge Concept is a plug-in hybrid powered by wheel motors and equipped with a small flex-fuel engine that can use any number of fuels–ethanol, biodiesel, whatever–to charge the battery. Too bad it’s still very much a concept.

Ferrari F430 Scuderia

This lighter, 510hp variation on the F430 made its North American debut at the L.A. show.

Audi Cross Cabriolet

The TDI diesel-powered, oddly SUV-like Audi Cross Cabriolet concept car.

Honda FCX Motor

The Clarity’s compact electric motor.

Nissan GT-R

The mythical, Porsche-killing, $70,000 2009 Nissan GT-R arrives in America at last. Its 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 kicks out 480 hp and slingshots the GT-R from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds.

Honda FCX Fuel Cell

The briefcase-size hydrogen fuel cell that powers the Clarity.

Porsche 911 GT2

This 530hp upgrade on Porsche’s flagship ride is the meanest 911 yet.

Jaguar XF

This, the 2009 Jaguar XF, is the car that’s supposed to save the beleaguered Jaguar brand.
BMW’s baby performance coupe, the 1 Series. The 128i and 135i both go on sale this spring. They’ll each run on some variation of a 3.0-liter inline six–the 128i will get 230hp; the 135i, 300 hp. With 128i prices starting under 30 grand, the 1 Series is meant to bring new drivers into the BMW fold. Seth Fletcher

Chevy Beat

This cartoonish concept, first revealed last spring at the New York Auto Show, is actually going to see production. Well, a vehicle based on the Beat will see production, as GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz announced Wednesday at the show. GM held an online vote to select one of three concept cars to put into production, and the Beat won. Good thing it did, Lutz said–that’s the one they intended to build all along.


The Reventon’s downright belligerent appearance was modeled on the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

Mini Clubman

This expanded variation on the Mini raised possibly the only philosophical question of the auto show: If a Mini gets bigger, is it still a Mini?

Chevy Equinox

100 fuel-cell Equinoxes like this one will be tested by everyday drivers in New York, D.C. and L.A. as part of Chevy’s Project Driveway market-research initiative.

Nissan GT-R

Rear shot of the GT-R.

Smart Cabriolet

The Europeans are coming! In January, in fact. Here’s the Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet. It’s roomier than it looks, really.

Lexus IS-F

Lexus gets into the sport-sedan game with this beast, which is powered by a 5-liter V8 and has a top speed of 170 mph.


The Governator himself checks out the new, $1.4-million Lamborghini Reventon. [See our review of the Reventon here.]

Honda FCX Clarity

Wednesday morning at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda unveiled the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle. It’s an entirely hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions vehicle set to hit streets–or rather, the streets of L.A., where Honda will begin to roll out the FCX in limited numbers–this summer.

Nissan GT-R