Lincoln Goes Black Label as Brands Buff Up for LA Auto Show


The North American auto industry continues to ride a surge that is harkening back to the halcyon days of a decade ago, when 16- and 17-million-unit years represented a modern sales peak for the business. Automakers must also find ways to boost sales without the benefit of an incipient economic recovery and the “pent-up demand” by consumers that helped them reach their current peak. That’s what auto shows are for.

The 2015 auto show season moves to the U.S. this week with the Los Angeles International Auto Show getting under way with a press preview on Tuesday. Like January’s North American auto show in Detroit, it’s staged by local associations of auto dealers, but its biggest influence will be as a platform to showcase brands’ production models, concept vehicles and feature, which will be closely watched far beyond LA.

Based on sneak peeks and previews, the Los Angeles event will bring car buffs luxury sedans, “super sports cars and SUVs,” as brands look to wow consumers—and get them to open their wallets.[more]

Perhaps no brand will enjoy the LA show more than Volkswagen, whose new, seventh-generation 2015 Golf subcompact—crucial to turning around VW’s sales fortunes in the United States as well as serving as a global platform—just won the industry’s coveted Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. While on the West Coast, VW also plans to show its GTI Roadster concept car.

Toyota also should enjoy a lot of attention at the media preview this week, for its announcement of the “Mirai” (which means “future” in Japanese) for a fuel-cell-powered sedan that travels 300 miles with a hydrogen tank and can be refilled in less than five minutes.

As Bloomberg reported, the disclosure on the eve of the LA show increases the company’s commitment to fuel cells, as opposed to battery-only cars, as long-term alternatives to internal combustion engines.

A snapshot of what some other brands will be touting in LA:

Acura will sport a new ILX with some styling updates, a new powertrain and upgraded interior.

Audi will showcase the revamped Audi TT Roadster and TTS Coupe, featuring a new rendering of the car’s iconic design and “driver-focused performance” technologies. The redesigned A6 and A7 sedans will make their North American debut at the show with a slight redesign including new headlights, engines and infotainment systems.

BMW is highlighting new “M” high power and performance versions of its X5 and X6 crossover vehicles.

Cadillac will debut for the 2016 model year a new ATS-V Coupe (above) that adds at least a hundred horsepower to the standard 321-horsepower, V-6 engine that powers the regular version of the sedan. CTS-V also will sport higher-echelon wheels and brakes.

Chevrolet will debut a Gran Turismo Corvette concept vehicle the likes of which will only be seen otherwise in the Gran Turismo video game. The car that will debut virtually in the Gran Turismo 6 version of the game has little resemblance to current production-model Corvettes.

Chrysler is refurbishing its narrow product lineup with the new 200 mid-size sedan. The LA Show should bring a “moderately updated” version of the 300 full-size sedan whose original “gangster” styling excited car buyers several years ago. This time around there should be some front- and rear-end styling changes and tech enhancements.

Ford is showcasing (after teasing) the Shelby GT350 Mustang and a refreshed Ford Explorer SUV, while its Lincoln marque is going even more upscale with the just-announced Black Label models and customer experience. (Watch the launch videos below.)

Lexus will unveil a concept vehicle for its next convertible sedan, dubbed the LF-C2.

Mazda is expected to make one of the most significant introductions at the show: a brand-new model for the 2016 model year. The new CX-3 crossover hatchback will compete with a bevy of other new and relatively new vehicles in the hot small SUV segment. For good measure, Mazda will reveal refined versions of Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5.

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce its new Mercedes-Maybach platform.

Scion will use the show to display its iM concept, a hatchback designed with millennials in mind, featuring a racy exterior and 19-inch forged-alloy wheels.

Volvo comes to Los Angeles with a new V60 Cross Country wagon that is expected to display several advantages over the old V60, including 2.6 more inches of ground clearance, underbody cladding and new all-wheel drive.

Below, The Lincoln brand’s “Artisans of Lincoln” series:

Crafting Black Label:” Introducing Lincoln Black Label, a new suite of sumptuous interior palettes and exterior paints for the next generation of Lincoln vehicles. Lincoln Black Label was created for individuals who are drawn to a certain kind of craftsmanship; those who appreciate the significance of space inside a seam, the warmth of a premium leather, and delicate touch of a quality fabric. Janet Seymour, Color and Design Manager for Lincoln, takes us through the origins and inspirations for Black Label and describes the craft, quality and design of the new offering—down to the very last stitch.”

The Black Label Themes: “Inspired by those committed to craft and design, Lincoln Black Label is a unique expression of elegance that has manifested for the new Lincoln lineup in four themes: Modern Heritage, Oasis, Center Stage, and Indulgence. Get to know each new world and discover the origins and inspirations as told by Lincoln Color and Design Manager Janet Seymour.”

The Leather of Black Label: “Ralph Maendle walks us through the Eagle Ottawa leather tannery to explain the process of producing leather for Lincoln Black Label: the top 1% of hides in the world. Lincoln’s design team worked closely with Eagle Ottawa each step of the way – from the discerning hide selection, to evolving traditional drying processes, down to establishing the thickness measurements done by hand – to produce the most supple and yet durable leather for Lincoln Black Label.”

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