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Is The 2021 LA Auto Show Really Happening?

exterior photo of the Los Angeles convention center with the Los Angeles Auto Show sign draped over the entrance facade.

If so, who will be there? You? Me? Everyone?

The (ongoing) pandemic threw a wrench in the planning and scheduling of most conventions and shows. The LA Auto Show is no exception - last year's event was first postponed and then cancelled. What about this year?

By Roy Nakano

Fri, Oct 22, 2021 12:36 PM PST

Up until recently, the burning question was whether an LA Auto Show 2021 was even happening. Oh sure, the organizers announced it (November 17-18 for the press preview called AutoMobility LA; November 19-28 for the general public), but we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

Will The 2021 L.A. Auto Show Actually Take Place?

Why It Won't Happen

Usually, the show organizers bombard us with press releases, but up until the end of August, only one press release was received - and it was the only one up on the organizer’s press release page until August 25th. On September 7th, the show organizers issued a third press release, this one on a Zero-Emissions Vehicle Awards (the ZEVAS). It’s now late October as we write this, there are still only three press releases on the organizer's page, and press releases from OEMs and other exhibitors are few and far between.

Even more worrisome is the LA Auto Show' website devoted to vehicle debuts. It’s usually filled with pictures of anticipated debuts. As of this writing, the page shows no new debuts - just photos of debuts from the 2019 LA Auto Show.

Why It Is Indeed Happening

Regarding vehicle debuts, we DID see an announcement about the Vietnamese carmaker Vinfast introducing two EVs at the LA Auto Show, but it came from The Detroit Bureau. And on October 20th, the LA Auto Show organizers announced that Southern California-based brands Fisker Inc. and Mullen Automotive as well as legacy automakers Hyundai, Kia, Porsche, and Subaru are set to debut new products. On top of that, companies debuting their brands and showcasing their latest innovations at AutoMobility LA and LA Auto Show this year will include BILITI Electric, EdisonFuture, ElectraMeccanica, and SONDORS.

And that August 25th press release was a critical one - it announced the sale of admission tickets for the show. Moreover, the tickets can be bought on the show’s website, making a cancellation at this point a very sticky proposition. Last, but not least, it looks like the organizers are taking pandemic-style safety precautions for this year’s show.

"The LA Auto Show will be operated in full accordance with all safety protocols required by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health," says LA Auto Show spokesperson Kat Kirsch. "The LA Auto Show will be cashless this year; tickets can be purchased online ... or at ticketing kiosks onsite with a credit card."

One industry insider (whose name is being withheld upon request) predicts "The show will go on, and it’s too late to pull the plug unless either an inbound asteroid or the governor interrupts this," but notes that "I would expect very limited reveals - probably not a lot for the media - and some of those will be off-site ahead of the show."

So, Are YOU Going To The LA Auto Show?

Okay, assuming we are on for the show, we asked our colleagues - the ones that steadfastly attend the show, or at least its press preview (aka AutoMobility LA), "Are YOU going to the LA Auto Show?"

Beam me up! Editor Steve Laser gave us an interesting perspective on the upcoming show: "Well, we've been living in an alternate universe for a year and a half now, and it's still amazing to me that something like an auto show requires preparation akin to William Shatner's venture into space - although far less costly, and no worries about zero gravity or reentry; just concerns about aborting the launch."

Editor Steve WILL be attending the show. "I’ll be using a force field (mask) because there will be Klingons there. I’ve heard they often employ a cloaking device."

image of Storm Troopers on stage at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show
Stormtroopers at the LA Auto Show, but Steve Laser will be looking out for Klingons. (R Nakano photo)

The Line In The Sand

"I use the same standard for the LA Auto Show as with other events," says one colleague who’s had a hand in some of the show’s programming in the past. "If vaccinations are required, as well as masks indoors with no exceptions - meaning religion and being deaf are pointless in my world unless the event planners get a signed document from the COVID-19 virus stating it will not infect those with exemptions - I will consider attending."

"The good news is the COVID death toll in the USA has dropped to about 1,500 a day. Or, the equivalent to the loss of life in the twin towers on 9/11 every 48-hours. Okay, maybe that’s not such good news when looking at it like that."

I Guess This One’s Not Going

"The show seems distant to me," said one veteran journalist of the show. "With high-zoot breaking news on my computer every day, the auto shows seem static, old-fashioned, built for early morning TV news people to get stuff wrong about. I believe that the exclusivity of getting to see cars that we already know at least 92.5 percent of what we need to know about them a day or two ahead of the public has worn thin for many. And the mad scramble for press kits is more than embarrassing. At one time heading up that escalator to check-in was a magic carpet taking us up to be among automotive elite."

"We were centurions, musketeers, crusaders and the automotive world as it was on that day was laid out at out feet for us to observe and pontificate on ad hoc for our flocks. The kings and captains of the industry walked among us, and some even asked after our families. I called Jim Perkins ‘Grampa’ once and he smiled."

Here’s The Bottom Line

The industry insider put in the last word: "Say what you will, but there is no better way known to man or woman than to really get a feel for a car in the flesh. Okay, driving would be better still. But, all the photos, video, and well-crafted articles will still come a distant second place to actually being there with the machine. I know it. The public knows it. And most of all, the Los Angeles Auto Show knows it."

the stairways leading up to the show floor of the LA convention center, during the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The LA Auto Show will be operated in full accordance with all safety protocols required by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health,” says LA Auto Show spokesperson Kat Kirsch (R Nakano photo)

LA Auto Show 2021 Tickets and Pricing



Any Day General Admission Tickets Adult $20, Senior $12, Child $6
VIP Early Entry on Saturdays and Sundays Adult $40, Child $12
VIP Group Tours on Saturdays and Sundays Adult $95, Child $40
Wednesday/Thursday Thanksgiving Family Four-Packs $60 for a group of four people (any combination of adults, seniors, and children 6+)

For the latest information and guidelines as the show approaches, visit the LAAutoShow website.

Top image: The Los Angeles Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center (Albert J. Wong photo).

Special thanks to Doug Stokes for his contributions to this story.

About The Author

Roy Nakano's profile picture

Roy Nakano

Roy Nakano gave birth to LACar in the late '90s, having previously delivered LA Audio File back in the '80s. Aside from the occasional review, Roy likes to stray off the beaten automotive path: "Six Degrees of Reparations" reflected on the regretful ethical paths taken by car companies throughout history. "Traveling Through the Past and Present of the Green Book" looked at businesses that took a stand against racism and the man that wrote the book on where to find them. "Best Cars to Drive in Rush Hour Traffic" was an LACar guide published in the pre-GPS era. "In Search of the First Datsun 510 Tuner" looked at one of the milestones in the origin of import tuners.

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