Gallery: The Best of the 2009 L.A. Auto Show

The first morning of this year's Los Angeles auto show, the CEO of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, was scheduled to give the keynote address. The night before, he got fired. (Excuse me: He "resigned"). That, however, was the only real drama at this year's show, and for the sake of the auto industry, that's a good thing.

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The Baddest Backcountry Shred Machine: The Subaru-Based TRAX STI

Sure, you could take the lift up with the rest of the gapers and ride the designated, groomed slopes back down to the ski lodge, but then you would be lame. Rally car racer and DC Shoes co-founder Ken Block prefers something a bit less conventional, like his Subaru-based TRAX STI, the world's fastest cat track operation automobile.

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Next-Wave Mexico City Taxi Concept May See Daylight

An industrial designer's award-winning concept for a taxicab generates interest from car builders in Mexico. Could that nation's capital become a test bed for cars for hire?

Industrial designer Alberto Villareal had an idea for a zero-emissions taxicab to replace the copious cabs of his home domicile: smog-choked Mexico City. He named the fuel-cell-powered taxi, which maximizes space while reducing weight and uses solar power to supplement its electrical system, MX-Libris.

Officials at Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany thought MX-Libris was such a novel solution to the city's car-for-hire ills that they gave Villareal their coveted Red Dot design award in 2008. Now, Villareal says two Mexico-based companies -- a taxi distribution and management firm and a car body maker -- could be ready to build a prototype of MX-Libris, and maybe even put it into production.

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Nissan's Lean, Green 'Land Glider' Banks Like a Motorcycle, Feels Like A Plane

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a Nissan? Though limited to terrestrial travel, the concept Land Glider automobile from Nissan banks like an airplane, tilting into corners, giving drivers the sensation of flying. But, the likenesses to aviation don't end there. The two-seater orients driver and passenger in tandem -- one in front and one in back -- and rather than a steering wheel, the Land Glider has airplane-style, computer-guided yoke controls.

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Orkin Design and Sony Show Off Roll-Up Laptop Concepts

Laptops keep getting thinner and lighter, but some concept laptops take portable to a new level. Orkin Design's Rolltop consists of an OLED display that can start as a rolled-up mat and deploy as a multi-touch 17-inch laptop. My beastly HP laptop just shed a tear of envy.

The Orkin laptop can also transform into a tablet PC operable with a stylus, or become a standup flat screen display. A power adapter and other features fit with the carrying canister that comes with a convenient holding strap.

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At the Tokyo Motor Show: Toyota's FT-86 Concept Car

Toyota looks to its past for an excitement transfusion. It also raids the Subaru engine laboratory, but it's OK. Toyota's a part-owner

When was the last time Toyota produced a car enthusiasts could get excited about? Keep thinking, it's been a while. The company that once challenged US muscle cars with its 300-horsepower Supra could be back in relatively sporty trim by 2011. Toyota released images this week of a show car called the FT-86 concept, a rear-wheel-drive coupe recalling the Toyota AE86 of the 1980s, best known in the US as the Corolla. Yes, that was back when the Corolla was a kind of poor-man's sports car.

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Five New Microsoft Mouse Prototypes Tackle Multitouch, Look Crazy

By now you know the Windows 7 line, but in case you've somehow missed it: it's the first major computer operating system to support multitouch, meaning it (like an iPhone) can read more than one finger press at a time. Of course, in order to take advantage of touch, you need to upgrade your hardware -- for a premium price, naturally.

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Scaly BMW Concept Car Collects Solar Power, Then Raises Panels to Brake

The BMW Lovos car has solar photovoltaic cells all over its body

Plenty of cars can look cool and run green these days, but now designers are taking such concepts to extremes. The BMW Lovos has 260 exterior flaps that can collect solar power and act as airbrakes at the same time.

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e-Wolf's e2 Next-Gen EV Supercar a Handsome Powerhouse

e-Wolf's e2 Electric Vehicle: With a top speed of 155 mph and 0-60 acceleration in under four seconds, the e2's performance is nothing to scoff at (for an EV especially).  e-Wolf
No sooner does Tesla announce that it's expanding its vision to include minivans and crossovers, e-Wolf unveils an EV supercar that’s so sporty we’ve forgotten what Tesla’s Roadster even looks like. With a top speed of 155 miles per hour and a 0-60 acceleration that clocks in under four seconds, it has the performance to (somewhat) match its Italian playboy good looks, and its all-wheel drive (each wheel is powered by an independent electric motor) should be able to keep all 2,000 pounds of it on the road.

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Honda EV-N Concept: An All-Electric Throwback

It looks just like a Honda from the 1960s, but the EV-N concept's tech is totally naughties

The Honda N360 microcar was a modern marvel, sporting an all-alloy engine that could rev to 9000 rpm. The 360 cc unit only topped out at 45 hp, but at 1,100 pounds, the N360 could hit an astounding 81 mph. And that came in handy while sharing the highways of 1970 with Buicks the size of a Japanese prefecture. Now, Honda's recast the classic N360's iconic design as a thoroughly modern concept car, the EV-N. Though just as tiny, this concept was created with some of the company's latest e-tech.

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Food-Generating Microwave Wins Electrolux Design Challenge

How will people make dinner in 90 years? If the newly crowned winner of the Electrolux Design Lab 2009 challenge is any indication, it'll be as easy as 1-2-3. Cocoon is a fish- and meat-generating microwave, intended as a solution to preserve fishing and farming resources.

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Fresh From Skunkworks, Hints of Microsoft's Own Secret Tablet

While drool over Apple's tablet is starting to accumulate in unsightly lakes and ponds across the web, little old Microsoft has been hard at work on Courier--an as-yet conceptual tablet of its own that our friends at Gizmodo unearthed last night. It's a totally different approach from what most are expecting from Apple, and in this concept video, it certainly looks pretty hot.

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Frankfurt Motor Show: Audi E-Tron Electric Concept

Audi shows off an all-electric sports car with four motors and enough torque to move a tugboat. Don't get excited, it's just a study

A major auto show without concept cars is just a heated parking garage with shrimp cocktail. So with the Frankfurt show's press days underway, Audi revealed a technical study that examines what its R8 sports car might be like if powered by four electric motors. The answer is the E-Tron. Those four motors together produce a modest 313 horsepower, but an astronomical 3,319 pound-feet of torque.

Not all that torque comes on at once, of course. Such a quantity of twisting force -- as much as an M47 Patton tank -- would turn all four tires into rubber vapor at the first throttle stab.

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Bugatti's 4-Door, Ultra-Luxe Galibier Concept Trumps Veyron in Sheer Ostentation, If That's Possible

Bugatti reveals a mega-luxury 4-door sedan fit for a robber baron (that tops out at 217 mph).

Yep, it's a good time to be one of the haves. Volkswagen-owned Bugatti, maker of the wickedly fast and pricey Veyron, this week unveiled an ultra-luxury sedan for the upmost echelon of car buyers. It's the Galibier, which takes its name from a pass in the Alps traversed during the Tour de France. But does such a machine still have a place in this age of downscaled expectations and environmental responsibility? Before you answer, that's an entirely rhetorical question.

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Toyota Plug-in Prius Concept to Debut at Frankfurt Auto Show

Visitors of Germany's largest international motor show will get a first look at Toyota's long-promised plug-in Prius this month, but buyers still have a long wait ahead.

It's been the talk of the hybrid-car crowd since the first hybrids landed in dealerships: The plug-in Prius. And with GM's plug-in Volt set for a 2010 launch, all eyes are now on Toyota. This week the company offered its first tangible evidence of a plug-in Prius, at least in two dimensions. The company released the first official photo image of a new Prius concept car that can get juice from the electrical grid.

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