OC Auto Show in Anaheim Convention Center is quite electric


Accolade staff writer Hope Li sits in a 2018 BMW i3 Oct. 3 at the Orange County Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center. Photo taken by Accolade adviser Tommy Li

I don’t like cars.

Nice cars are exactly what they sound like … nice.

But on Oct. 3, I had the chance to visit the 2019 Orange County Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center with no expectations.

I walked onto a black carpeted “road” with yellow lines in the middle and right into the Subarus and Acuras and Volkswagens.


I’m in the market for an electric car once I get my driving permit and later my driver’s license, so I stopped by Electric Avenue first, which is also the first time that the auto show has opened such an exhibit area. All the cars in the Avenue were unlocked for anyone to climb inside and take a look-see.

I first stepped into a 2018 BMW electric i3 with cool doors. The driver’s door opens first, and then the passenger door the opposite way. The i3’s dashboard looks like wood but feels like recycled plastic. The thin black screens also impressed me, but the rear doors were hard to open and the backseat was a little cramped.

Besides Electric Avenue, several car manufacturers’ exhibit spaces also feature their own line of electric vehicles.

At Jaguar, for example, a representative offers a short two- to three-minute tour of the I-Pace, which starts at nearly $70,000 — probably a bit too pricey for me. Unlike the BMW, which sells for nearly $45,000, the tour does not allow anyone to step inside.

Neighboring Electric Avenue, I check out the other gas-fueled cars that catch my eye (Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia to name a few).

Volkswagen’s show area features an attractive orange 2019 Beetle (also known as the VW Bug — one of my dream cars and the last version VW will make). A five-seater with two doors, the the car starting price falls just over $20,000. VW allows visitors to climb inside and sit down. The backseat feels cramped and hard to get into, but the front is surprisingly and conveniently roomy.

I still love the Beetle’s exterior look, but it might not be the best choice for me if I drive my four siblings around (and it’s not an all-electric vehicle).

Besides just looking at cars, each show space offers various interactive activities.

At Toyota, I put on a virtual reality headset, which provides a visual feel for what it’s like to sit in the front passenger seat beside a mannequin driving a Toyota Corolla hatchback. Looking around, I get a clear view of the dashboard, the road ahead of us and some of the backseat.

At Nissan, visitors get a chance to win some cool prizes by signing up to play a trivia game (spoiler alert: most of the questions relate to Nissan). Everyone wins a prize ranging from Nissan-marketed socks to a power bank to charge electronic devices.

But away with the commonplace cars and on to the sports and luxury cars.

The second-most expensive Acura at the show, the 2020 NSX, requires having to wait in line to sit in it.
It’s a neat feel to sit inside the bright yellow and black car with silver Tesla Model 3-like handles, blue outlines and a spoiler. It’s also cool that the colors are that of Sunny Hills’ yellow and black.

A separate section called “Exotic Cars,” tempts visitors to check out the Lamborghinis and Aston Martins. And unfortunately like the Jaguar’s I-Pace, most of the vehicles are for display only with only one or two that’s allowed for sitting inside.

Finally, the front of the auto show map features a cool image of the Kia all-electric HabaNiro, its concept SUV with all doors that open up similar to the falcon wing doors of Tesla’s Model X. The operative word here is “concept,” which means it’s for display purposes only.

And the doors disappointingly don’t even open.

Though the auto show will not settle for me the kind of electric vehicle I hope to own someday, it’s still worth checking out, especially for those who are looking for an alternative to the Oct. 5 homecoming dance.

The Auto Show runs to Oct. 6. It ends at 10 p.m. on Oct. 5, but the next day it goes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $13.50 for adults 13 and up.