2021 LA Auto Show Highlights: Cool Concepts, Next-Gen Electric Vehicles, and New Start-Ups

With several established automakers sitting on the sidelines, EVs and start-ups shined at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show.

2021 Kia EV9 ConceptLA Auto Show

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After skipping 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, the Los Angeles Auto Show returned for 2021, with almost every major vehicle debut somehow tied to an electric drivetrain, or at the very least, the promise of one soon. It was impossible to ignore just how many automakers declined to participate in this year's event, with a host of luxury brands electing to skip the festivities.

On the upside, the extra floor space opened up room for electric vehicle start-ups to strut their stuff alongside the major automakers who did attend. With that altered auto show landscape in mind, these are the cars, crossovers, and SUVs that stood out as the most significant at the 2021 LA Auto Show.

2023 Fisker OceanLA Auto Show

2023 Fisker Ocean

The Fisker Ocean charts a new path for the celebrated car designer Henrik Fisker, who penned cars for BMW and Aston Martin before launching his own car company with the Fisker Karma. While that company filed for bankruptcy in 2013, Fisker intends to take a second swing at car-making with the Ocean, which is slated to begin production in late 2022. This style-first electric SUV goes all-in on eco-cred with an interior crafted from waste rubber, recycled clothing, and even fishing nets recovered from the sea.

Starting around $38,000, the Ocean manages to walk just this side of the affordable line while providing between 250 miles and 350 miles of range depending on the model. Under ideal conditions, the optional SolarSky roof panels supply the battery with electricity equivalent to 2,000 miles of range per year, according to Fisker.

2021 Hyundai Seven ConceptHyundai

2021 Hyundai Seven Concept

Hyundai is in the midst of launching a sub-brand of electric vehicles named Ioniq. The Sevenconcept foreshadows a future production SUV that will almost certainly go by the name Ioniq 7. The concept’s pillarless barn-door setup, full glass hatchback, and unique configurable passenger space likely won't make the cut when the SUV hits showrooms in a few short years.

It's a safe bet, however, that the Seven’s pixelated front lighting, electrified platform, and swooping shape will. The Hyundai Seven is gorgeous and imposing, and shows that the Korean brand has no qualms about investing big in a battery-powered future.

2021 Kia EV9 ConceptLA Auto Show

2021 Kia EV9 Concept

Not to be left out, Hyundai's corporate cousin Kia also made a splash at the LA Auto Show with a large electric SUV of its own. Based on the same platform as the Hyundai Seven, the three-row EV9 concept goes in a different direction, adopting squared-off, rounded-brick proportions similar to what is found on the popular Kia Telluride mid-size SUV. Kia promises 300 miles of range, the choice between single-motor, rear-wheel drive and dual-motor, all-wheel drive models, and 350-kilowatt fast-charging capability to recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 20 to 30 minutes.

2022 Land Rover Range RoverLand Rover

2022 Land Rover Range Rover

Bucking the EV trend, the 2022 Land Rover Range Rover marks the long-awaited redesign of a luxury SUV stalwart. Making its global auto show debut, the new Range Rover showed evolutionary styling that is most pronounced at the rear, where sleek lighting now frames the hatch and haunches. The interior is predictably stuffed with high-end materials and fabrics, while power plants include a V8 and a inline-six-cylinder engine. There will also be a plug-in hybrid version for the 2023 model year, and a pure-electric Range Rover is planned for 2024.

2023 Nissan AriyaNissan

2023 Nissan Ariya

Featuring a dramatic slope to its roof and a $47,000 starting price, the Ariya is Nissan's first new, pure electric offering since the pioneering Leaf compact was introduced more than ten years ago. Nissan first showed the Ariya as a concept back in 2019. As the electric crossover nears its late-2022 launch, Nissan used the LA auto show to detail some of the specs.

With an 87-kilowatt-hour battery, the Ariya should land in the 300-mile range club to compete with vehicles like the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Front-wheel-drive versions deliver 238 horsepower, while the $60,000 Platinum+ e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive model is good for up to 389 hp.

2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RSLA Auto Show

2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS

Another non-electric highlight at the 2021 LA Auto Show was the 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS. That sequence of letters and numbers indicates that Porsche's excellent mid-engine sports car has finally received a major power plant upgrade thanks to a donation from its larger sibling, the rear-engine 911 GT3.

Boasting a high-revving 4.0-liter, six-cylinder engine, the newest Cayman matches 493 horsepower with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, giving it a top speed of just under 200 mph along with the handling chops that portend dominance at your closest race track. It's the kind of lightweight package that could very well make hardcore sports car fans ask the question, "911 who?"

2023 Subaru SolterraLA Auto Show

2023 Subaru Solterra and 2023 Toyota bZ4X

Subaru and Toyota are closely associated with environmentally concerned drivers, but both brands have been conspicuously absent from conversations about EVs. That’s about to change with these new electric crossovers. Although the Solterra and the bZ4X wear different badges and front styling, they're practically clones under the skin.

The biggest difference comes in how the product planners have chosen to equip the vehicles. The Toyota bZ4X offers a 201-horsepower front-wheel-drive version with an estimated 250 miles of range or a dual-motor all-wheel-drive model with 215 horsepower and 220 miles of range. Catering to its outdoorsy customer base, Subaru will only offer the Solterra with all-wheel-drive. Both the Solterra and bZ4x are scheduled to go on sale in the middle of 2022.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.