The 97th Vancouver International Auto Show (VIAS) kicked off Tuesday at the waterfront Vancouver Convention Centre with high expectations: last year’s show was one day shorter than the previous show but it attracted more visitors: over 100,000 in 2016.
As Vancouver’s show is late in the auto show season, there are usually few international or North American debuts, but this year there are two: making its North American debut is the 2018 Lexus LS500h, the company’s luxury AWD flagship sedan with a new multi-stage hybrid system designed for “high-performance luxury.”
The other NA debut is the new Range Rover Velar, a mid-size SUV that slots in between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. On sale later this year, the Velar will offer an adjustable air suspension, aluminum body panels and both turbo diesel and gasoline V6 engines with eight-speed automatic transmission. Starting price will be $62,000.
A popular feature of the Vancouver show is the Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive. Visitors to the show can sign up to take a free, ten-minute drive in any of one of 11 electric and plug-in hybrid cars, including the new Chevrolet Bolt, BMW X5 40e, and Chrysler Pacifica (plug-in) Hybrid.
In addition, this year Toyota and Lexus have a separate driving program with nine of their latest hybrid vehicles available for test drives, including the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus NX300h.
Reflecting its status as a hotspot for hybrids and electric cars, Vancouver was once again chosen as the location to announce the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) 2017 Canadian Green Car of the Year and Green Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards. In the former category, the Toyota Prius with Technology Package beat out runners-up Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and Kia Optima HEV. The 2017 AJAC Green Utility Vehicle of the Year was another Toyota vehicle: the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid with Technology Package option, beating out the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-9.
Other than new cars, the Vancouver show exhibits custom cars, off-road vehicles, hot rods, classic cars, exotic cars and aftermarket exhibits. This year, a couple of extremely rare and unique exotic cars are on display: a Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta Competition Coupe and Maserati 32 Model 200Si. The Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta Competition Coupe is the 37th left hand drive example created and was manufactured in August of 1960. Maserati produced 32 Model 200Si’s between 1955 and 1958. This example, chassis number 2423, was produced on June 13th of 1957.
On the lighter side, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Hot Wheels unveiled two full-size versions of their two most popular Hot Wheels toys: the Darth Vader Helmet car and the Bone Shaker. Both of these Hot Wheels are working road-worthy vehicles, though possibly not legally road-worthy. The Darth Vader Helmet car is just that: an all-black hot rod with a domed cabin shaped like the evil empire’s breathy leader. The Bone Shaker rat rod features a skull face and skull hands gripping the headlights, skull and crossbones steering wheel, and skull shift knob. It’s powered by a 402-hp 350 cubic inch Chevy V8.
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