This was my first time at the auto show, so I have nothing to compare it to. But the regulars tell me, I'm missing out. On the parties. There are no parties this year, as everyone is observing the new austerity. Everyone, that is, except Mercedes.
They held the only party the night before. And we couldn't get in. My producer Nancy and I weren't on the list. No amount of sweet talking, name dropping, or pretending we were BMW haters would get the clipboard lady to relent. I wondered why Mercedes wouldn't want to wine and dine us. After all, their sales were way off last year.
Mercedes Blue Zero E-Cell
Not that you'd know that at the auto show. They've created a cafe in their display area, with a working chef turning out beef medallions, shitake mushroom quiche, roquefort salad, beer and wine. Free to any journalist who manages to grab a seat. As I sipped my latte, I gazed at Mercedes' main attraction
The Blue Zero E-Cell, an all-electric concept car. Instantly, I could picture myself driving it. Eco, yet stylish. Alluring, yet attainable. Not a Prius, but not a Fisker.
Wait - did I say "attainable?" Who am I kidding? A Mercedes clipboard guy refused to tell me how much this car would cost. But I imagine, much like the press party, this is one car I'm not getting into. When I get back to L.A., this is the only Mercedes that will have me.
Photo by Gary Dauphin, NPR