Electric and fuel-cell cars to star at L.A. show

(MoneyWatch) Alternative fuel vehicles will lead the parade at the Los Angeles Auto Show starting next week. Volkswagen's first all-electric vehicle to be sold in the U.S., the e-Golf, will come only as a five-door hatchback. Honda's fuel-cell concept car has not yet been shown to the public, but teaser photos of the front end make it appear to be low and sleek.

The Los Angeles show, with press days early next week, will be open to the public from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1. It is the first on the annual calendar of U.S. auto shows, with the Detroit event in January and the New York show in the Spring.

The e-Golf is powered by a 115-horsepower electric motor. Like most electrics, it has sprightly acceleration: The company says it can go from zero to 25 mph in 4.2 seconds and reach 60 mph in 10.4 seconds. That's not Corvette fast, but it's not sluggish either. A factor that should help entice potential owners is a fast-charging capability that allows the battery to charge 80 percent full in 30 minutes if hooked up to the right charger. The e-Golf is scheduled to go on sale in a few selected U.S. locations in late 2014.

Unlike the e-Golf, Honda's fuel-cell car is still in the concept stage and is not definitely scheduled to go on sale. Honda is one of several auto companies working on these hydrogen-fueled vehicles. It is doing research in cooperation with General Motors (GM), which has been demonstrating experimental fuel-cell SUVs for years. Fuel-cell vehicles, along with electric and some natural gas cars, are all aimed at helping manufacturers to meet the tightening U.S federal requirements for corporate average fuel economy.

In addition, automakers will debut new and updated versions of more traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in L.A. These will include the redesigned 2014 Mini Cooper and an all-new SUV from Porsche to be called the Macan. GM will show its 2015 Escalade, which was introduced recently at a press event in New York.

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