Fossil fuels are finally on the way out, and electricity is emerging as the de facto fuel of the future with more governments around the world looking to address their pollution problems. As a result, automakers are investing billions of dollars developing hybrids and electric vehicles. In fact, most manufacturers say they are hoping to transition their lineups to mostly battery-powered offerings over the next decade.
As a result, there were more than a few high-voltage debuts during the show’s preview days, ranging from the highly anticipated Audi e-Tron GT sedan, to Chinese automaker Byton’s four-door K-Byte, to Rivian’s made-in-America seven-passenger SUV.
Here are 8 of the standouts from the 2018 show:
2020 Porsche 911
Southern California has long been a haven for Porsche enthusiasts and remains the manufacturer’s most important market. So it's only fitting that the sports car-maker would choose to unveil the next generation of its most storied model, the 911, in L.A. Code-named 992, this is the eighth version of the iconic sportscar.
Like all the other 911 variants, the 992 is an evolutionary step in the car’s development, not a revolutionary. It offers the race car handling, neck-snapping power and familiar looks of a 911 but it been massaged to be a little quicker, a little larger, a little smarter and better equipped.
The all-new eighth generation Porsche 911 (shown above in Carrera 4s form) doesn't look much different than its predecessor, but it’s a little larger, a little smarter and better equipped. It’s a little faster too.
BMW M340i xDrive
BMW had a full lineup of debuts, including the new 8 Series coupe and cabriolet and a new utility vehicle, the X7. But the most important debut this year was the M340i xDrive. It is the most aggressive version of the new 3 Series yet. Despite the name, it’s not an M—but it’s close. The M340i features a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six that develops approximately 382 horsepower, 369 pound-feet torque and boasts a more aggressive exterior and interior. When it comes to performance, the xDrive-equipped M340i will sprint to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, a half-second quicker than its predecessor.
Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
Featuring some extreme race car-inspired improvements derived from the GT3 and GT4 models, the GT R Pro is the most intense AMG GT ever built. It’s armed with the standard GT R's twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that makes 577 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. AMG did tweak the GT R's suspension, improved its aerodynamics, and removed weight using new wheels and carbon-fiber parts. As a result, the new Pro is about six seconds faster around the Nürburgring than the basic version of the GT R.
2020 Jeep Gladiator
It’s been more than 25 years since Jeep built a pickup truck. Well, they’re back. Based on the fourth-generation Wrangler, the outdoorsy Gladiator is much more than simply a Wrangler with a bed.
Audi e-tron GT
The e-tron GT is a sheep in a wolf’s chassis. At a glance, it looks elegant and sophisticated like a luxury sedan should. And its interior is simply stunning, as one would expect from an Audi. But under that stylish sheet metal and soft leather, the vehicle is ready to shred asphalt whenever called to do so. Sharing underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, the GT features similar technology to the e-tron SUV release a few months ago, but “steered towards performance,” says Anthony Foulk, senior product manager at Audi.
With 590 horsepower to play with, the E-Tron GT will be capable of going from zero to 60 mph in a blistering 2.5 seconds. Its top speed will be about 149 miles an hour. Like Tesla's all-wheel-drive cars, the E-Tron GT is powered by two separate electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the back. It also has four-wheel steering, enabling tighter cornering.
The new Lincoln Aviator is ready for take-off, and it is a real head-turner. First shown as a concept earlier this year at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, the Aviator is being touted as the epitome of American luxury. It also debuts Lincoln’s new hybrid drivetrain, which combines a V6 internal combustion engine with an electric motor. Lincoln says that the engine should develop 450 horsepower from the car, and 600 pounds-feet of torque. The electric-only range has not been announced, though there will be a pure EV mode that the Aviator run on battery power alone.
The Michigan-based startup Rivian made quite an impressive debut in Los Angeles, unveiling two rugged yet refined electric vehicles for people with active lifestyles. “This means having great driving dynamics on any surface on- or off-road, providing cargo solutions to store any type of gear easily, whether it’s a surfboard or a fishing rod and, very importantly, being capable of driving long distances on a single charge,” explained company founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe.
The first unveiling took place at L.A.’s famed Griffith Observatory—an all-electric pickup truck, the R1T, with an incredible 400-mile-plus range. Not only does the vehicle have more 14 inches of ground clearance, it can also can climb 45-degree inclines, and is capable of wading through 3.6 feet of water. Scaringe claims it handles better than a Porsche Cayenne Turbo thanks in large part to the trucks quad-motor all-wheel-drive system (an electric motor will power each wheel). “The beauty and elegance of our quad-motor setup isn’t just about brute power,” explained Executive Director of Engineering and Programs Mark Vinnels. “This architecture provides instantaneous torque with extremely precise control at each wheel, which is completely game-changing from a dynamics perspective, both on- and off-road.”
Next, Scaringe pulled the wraps off the company’s second adventure vehicle, the R1S, an electrified seven-passenger SUV built on the same platform as the R1T. It, too, is equal parts work and play—urban assault vehicle and trailblazer—and is just as capable as the R1T.
Both vehicles will be available with three different battery pack configurations (105kWh, 135 kWh, and 180 kWh), capable of approximately 240, 310 and 410-plus miles of range, respectively, and will develop between 400 and 750 horsepower.