Volkswagen’s attempt to remind media of the heritage of the Beetle convertible is slightly hampered by a near-miss major fender bender.

While assembling a display that includes a vintage ’52 Beetle convertible along with the newest model, the older Bug is nearly smashed by some scaffolding. The lightly damaged car is rushed to a specialty shop for surgery, then returns to the hotel without a scratch.

Holistic Honda

Honda America President John Mendel corrects a reporter who asks about the American response to the Asian auto maker making great strides in the U.S.

“When you say American auto industry, people don’t any longer put quotes around it,” Mendel says. “Ninety-five percent of what we sell here in 2016 will be made in North America. Last year, it was 90%.

“North America is taking more and more of a lead for Honda globally. It’s vastly different than the perception that a lot of people have.”

Gimme Shelter

Audi’s rooftop auto show party was nearly rained out due to inclement weather in Southern California, forcing the swanky West Hollywood hotel to move the shindig into hastily pitched, unfashionable plastic tents before guests arrived.

A small group of journalists joked they might have fit in with the frumpiness of it all, anyway. “We’re clearly the writers,” one said, pointing toward a group of dapper Audi employees.

Blonde Ambition

Don’t expect to see Madonna in a Fiat commercial anytime soon. There’s a loose connection between the global superstar and the Italian brand: She was bred in Detroit, and Fiat owns Chrysler and its “Imported From Detroit” campaign.

But although the pop diva is signed to Interscope Records, with whom Fiat has a relationship, the brand’s global chief nixes the suggestion of linking the two. “Fiat is not a Detroit brand,” Olivier Francois says.

Bentley Stalls as Bubbly Runs Out

Bentley is the last presentation of the day for weary media, but stays true to its auto show tradition of serving champagne after its product reveal. Or at least that was the plan.

Journos were disappointed to learn the upstairs British Bentley had run out of champagne and instead was serving decidedly downstairs Heineken or Corona beer. Which begs the question: Who drank the champagne?

Infiniti to Unveil New Sedan, But Not Today

Which city hosts the most important auto show in America? Tough question, but competition between Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York for the mantle has been well-documented over the years.

So Infiniti’s news at this week’s L.A. auto show must have greeted some Californians like a kick in the teeth. Nissan’s luxury brand opted not to hold a press conference this year, but instead has issued a statement with a Los Angeles dateline encouraging journalists to attend its press conference in six weeks – at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The Jan. 14 event will see the unveiling of an all-new luxury sport sedan, and Infiniti’s new president, Johan de Nysschen, will discuss the brand’s strategic expansion worldwide. And the avant-garde Cirque du Soleil will perform as well.


Chrysler marketing chief Olivier Francois gives Fiat attendees a laugh when describing his “sexy” electric compact coming to market next year. “It’s a car that arouses without the need of a blue pill,” he says. Taking it a step further, he quips, “Who doesn’t want performance and stamina?”