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For decades, the Los Angeles Auto Show (LA Auto Show) has been seen by automakers as a ‘frontier passage’ to enter the ‘automobile capital’ of the US – California. If it is successful, potential automakers appearing at the show for the first time, like VinFast this year, could completely conquer the US market as many giants in the industry have done before.
The world’s No. 1 technology stage
It is not by chance that the LA Auto Show is known worldwide as one of the most influential auto shows in the world. First held in 1907, few annual exhibitions in the world have a history of more than 100 years, but the LA Auto Show does.
“Only 3 times in its 117-year history has the LA Auto Show been postponed, namely World War I, World War II and COVID-19,” said Lisa Kaz, CEO of LA Auto Show regarding the hundred-year history of the event.
Many ‘legendary’ automakers consider the LA Auto Show as the place where the first bricks of success for a company are placed. Among the most memorable automakers are Ford, which was only established four years before the first show in 1907. Or Cadillac, which officially greeted the United States with a model at the LA Auto Show for the first time when the company was 5 years old.
In the years later, many big names on their journey of conquering the United States have seen the LA Auto Show as a strategic step. In addition to its hundred-year-old reputation, LA Auto Show has also been the world’s No. 1 stage for automakers to compare their technologies.
Even in the beginning years from 1907-1920, the LA Auto Show made Californians consider the event a ‘pilgrimage’ because it was the only place people could enjoy the latest technology from the auto industry. Those were the most fashionable electric and gasoline models of which the power of the engine could be between 12-60 horsepower – too small compared to the present but very high then.
Every year, dozens of automakers desire to have a corner at the show to show off their most exciting products. It is worth remembering that in the 1960s, legendary models such as the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO were launched at the LA Auto Show and quickly conquered Americans. Or, Tesla Roadster – the Tesla’s first electric car appeared at the LA Auto Show in 2006 and then took the world by storm.
“It’s a unique place for many years that brings the worlds of automotive and technology closer,” said a veteran data analyst in the US.
The most potential market to create a ‘viral trend’
From another view of point, Los Angeles, in the state of California, is the place where any company desire to enter because it is the leading open and potential market in the US. The first reason derives from the ‘automotive culture’ that has existed for decades here. There is a saying that is familiar to many Americans: “Nobody walks in Los Angeles,” referring to the popularity of automobiles in the ‘automobile capital’ of the US.
In the 1920s, when the population of the city was about 600,000, the number of registered cars reached more than 161,000. In 1920, there were 170 gas stations in Los Angeles. This number increased nearly 10 times to 1,500 stations after only 10 years. A fast-growing middle class and adequate support policies created a city with one of the highest rates of auto ownership in the country.
In economic terms, J.D.Power, the world-famous company in market research, said that the ‘angel city’ of Los Angeles in particular, and California in general, has been the number one auto market in the US. In addition to the auto culture, California holds great strength with the largest population in the entire US. In 2020, California recorded a population of more than 39 million, which is equal to the total of many other states.
It’s not just the big market. The most important factor in business, according to analyst Stephanie Brinley from IHS Markit, a world-famous data collection and analysis company based in London, California, is that this is always a place of high sales of luxury goods. The average income of Californians has always been in the top six in the country, with an average income of each household valued at more than 80,000 USD per year, which is a ‘sufficient condition’ for any automaker to look for opportunities here.
It is worth mentioning, according to the IHS Markit representative, that conquering a market like California will help automakers achieve a larger goal, which is to create the ‘viral trend’. When nearly 40 million people of the ‘automobile capital’ were conquered, it was almost a green card for users in the rest of the US to believe.
Therefore, the LA Auto Show is considered by international experts as a door to open opportunities for any automaker who wants to turn the ‘American dream’ into reality. At a place of large openness and high technology like the LA Auto Show, any automaker has equal opportunity. Therefore, in the upcoming LA Auto Show 2021, VinFast has high expectations with the VF e35 and VF e36 – two electric vehicles that are of particular interest to the world community. Many international newspapers have analyzed the attraction of VinFast at this event, not only because of a new name from Việt Nam, but also because of the technological difference between the two EV SUVs that are about to be launched in the US.
“VinFast is Việt Nam’s answer to Tesla,” Reuters commented after seeing the VF e35 in Europe in September.
The question is whether VinFast will “make a story according to the LA Auto Show formula” in the same way that Japanese auto businesses built a foothold when participating in the exhibitions in the 1960s? Dr Bui Trong Hieu, a veteran technology expert who has worked for many years in Silicon Valley, US, said that with what he observed of VinFast, this is not a surprise.
“VinFast electric cars with serious investment and technology strengths could completely conquer the LA Auto Show and then the US, similar to the steps of many giants before”, expressed Dr Bui Trong Hieu.
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