LA Auto Show: The concept of ‘concept’

Lincoln's new Continental
Lincoln’s new Continental. Photo by Steve Chiotakis

‘Tis the season to be thankful. For engines and motors and tires, oh my. And the freedom that cars afford us.

Southern California is freeway intense, of course. Those roads are packed with cars and trucks that are at the forefront of technology. Which is another way of saying they’re cars that got their start at shows like the Los Angeles International Auto Show as “concepts.”

That showcase revs the gas this week.

It features everything from the concept-turned-real model Fiat 124 Spider, which is a joint venture between Mazda and the Italian automaker. It features a Miata MX-5 body, with Fiat engine.

There’s a new Lincoln Continental that went from drawing board to assembly line, on display and ready for takers soon.

Kia's concept minivan features camouflage and a work space in the back
Kia’s concept minivan features camouflage and a work space in the back. Photo by Steve Chiotakis

Ford is hoping the four-door luxury car will boost sales and its bottom line.

It also started as a so-called “concept.”

A Kia concept minivan features a workspace, table, generator and full-on lights to accommodate campers or survivalists. But it’s not likely going to be made anytime soon.

And a car that has been made, a model by Honda called the Clarity, is fueled by hydrogen fuel cell, whose by-product is water, not smog. Sounds great, of course. But, currently, there are only 6 hydrogen stations in greater LA.

Honda's hydrogen fuel cell 'Clarity'. All photos: Steve Chiotakis
Clarity, Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell concept car . Photo by Steve Chiotakis

Honda and the state of California say more are coming.

Our car guy, Tod Mesirow, joined KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis on location at the LA Convention Center to get a sneak peek of some of those concepts, and discuss whether the word “concept” means something altogether different.