Green Car Preview: Los Angeles Auto Show Concepts, Production Cars

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Scion iM Concept to be shown at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

Scion iM Concept to be shown at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

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The Los Angeles Auto Show held every November has the reputation of being a showplace for green cars.

From design exercises to "concept cars" that are thinly future disguised production models to actual new models appearing at dealers, the cars in LA are expected to have a strong green tinge.

And the show built its reputation partly on being in California, by far the most aggressive state in cutting auto emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of road vehicles.

But this year, so far, it's been slim pickings for green-car fans.

In fact, we've got just four cars tagged as "green" that we know we'll see next week in Los Angeles.

For all the latest updates about production models and concept cars as they appear next week, see our Los Angeles Auto Show news page.

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

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2016 CADILLAC ELR

The range-extended electric luxury coupe from Cadillac suffers from one huge problem.

Buyers who want a plug-in vehicle know it has an (adapted) Chevy Volt powertrain underneath, but a price tag $40,000 higher than the Volt.

Whether Cadillac plans to alter the pricing remains unknown, but the company says it will introduce an updated 2016 ELR next week, to go into production sometime after the first of the year.

Will that ELR have a version of the 2016 Volt powertrain unveiled last month, with its quieter and more powerful engine, longer electric range, and higher efficiency?

We wouldn't bet against it.

Teaser for Mazda CX-3 subcompact crossover

Teaser for Mazda CX-3 subcompact crossover

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2016 MAZDA CX-3

We've known for a while that Mazda would spin a crossover utility vehicle out of the underpinnings of its new subcompact Mazda 2 hatchback.

The CX-3, one size class smaller than the CX-5--still one of our favorite compact crossovers in a crowded segment--will make its global debut next week.

(Mazda will also show updated versions of the CX-5 and the Mazda 6 mid-size sedan as well, but the CX-3 is the big news.)

We don't have the new Mazda 2 here yet, but given the growth in small crossovers--from the MINI Countryman to the upcoming Fiat 500X, as well as the existing Nissan Juke--Mazda may focus first on the tiny SUV for North America.

No details on powertrains yet, but expect a smaller SkyActive four-cylinder powertrain and optional all-wheel drive.

Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept

Mercedes-Benz G-Code concept

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MERCEDES-BENZ CONCEPT G-CODE

Mercedes may just have launched its compact CLA sedan and GLA crossover hatchback, but it's clearly not done downsizing its model range.

The G-Code concept is actually a subcompact Mercedes-Benz, though one designed largely with status-conscious Chinese buyers in mind.

The concept vehicle features a hydrogen powertrain, but one that uses the hydrogen to fuel an internal-combustion engine, not to power an electric drive motor.

The styling is a more aggressive (and smaller) echo of the new 2015 Mercedes GLA, and the interior shows off some typical show-car features and lines.

Will we see it here in the States? Nothing's impossible, but don't hold your breath.

Scion iM Concept to be shown at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

Scion iM Concept to be shown at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

2015 SCION iM (CONCEPT)

While it's listed as a concept car, the Scion iM is actually a thinly-disguised version of the first high-volume Scion model in quite a few years.

Closely related to the Toyota Auris model built and sold in Europe, you can think of the iM compact hatchback as a five-door version of the Toyota Corolla with more expressive styling.

Scion hasn't released any details on powertrains yet, but we wouldn't be surprised to see the iM get the Corolla's updated and direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled to the company's new continuously variable transmission (CVT).

What we almost surely won't get in the U.S. is the very nice Toyota Auris wagon that's sold in Europe.

Nor are we likely to get the Auris Hybrid; Toyota has thus far limited hybrid options in gasoline vehicles to mid-size and larger segments. Below that, you have a selection of four Prius models instead.

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