LA Auto Show Unveils 6 Electric Vehicles You Haven't Heard Of

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

LA Auto Show Unveils 6 Electric Vehicles You Haven't Heard Of

After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the L.A. Auto Show is returning with a crush of Southern California electric vehicle makers debuting cars ahead of next week's show and new ones announcing they will enter the local market for the first time.

While there's a handful of new cars being introduced at this year's show, local automakers have yet to deliver any vehicles to customers and are planning to do so within the next five years.


One of the newest local entrants is Vietnamese electric automaker VinFast. The company bills itself as a higher-end car. It announced this week it would establish a headquarters in L.A., its first American outpost and a key foothold for the company as it looks to bring its electric vehicles to a Western market.

Another newbie in the region's brimming EV industry is Brea-based Mullen Automotive. Launched this year, the company is going after the middle market, with the price on their Mullen FIVE SUV starting at $55,000. It was one of the only electric carmakers to boast its manufacturing is entirely based in the United States –most other builders with local footprints opt to manufacture overseas and then ship to the States for further fine-tuning or regulatory adjustments.

Here's a look at some of the wheels made by local carmakers being showcased at this year's Auto Show next week, Nov. 19-28.

VinFast will debut two electric SUVs, the VF e35 and VF e36

VinFast

VinFast is a subsidiary of Vingroup, a Vietnam conglomerate that's the country's largest publicly listed company. The firm is trying to make a splash at its first Auto Show this year, springing for a large billboard outside the Los Angeles Convention Center and opting for one of the biggest reveals during the press days.

VinFast will sell two electric SUVs, the VF e35 and VF e36. The company's global CEO Michael Lohscheller said during a presser one of its core values is speed, and not just in terms of miles per hour -- both vehicles will be available for pre-order in the first half of next year, and deliveries are planned to begin in fourth quarter 2022.

The VF e35 is around the size of the Tesla Model Y, and it will have an estimated range of 250 miles. The VF e36 is slightly larger and more powerful, with a range of about 340 miles. Internally, both cars are reminiscent of Teslas, with a focus on minimalist features and a large, central screen. VinFast hasn't yet set pricing for either car.

VinFast is opting for a unique model with its batteries -- it will lease them to customers with the promise of replacing them once they are less than 70% charge and believes that this model can help lower the price point for buyers.

VinFast launched in 2017 and announced this week that it will establish its U.S. headquarters in Playa Vista. The company's manufacturing will be done at its newly-constructed facility in Vietnam, where nearly everything is automated and roughly 1,200 robots control 90% of the production line. Lohscheller also said VinFast plans to have some production facilities in North America by 2024.

Mullen FIVE crossover SUVMullen FIVE model

Mullen Automotive

Los Angeles-based publicly traded automaker Mullen will reveal its first vehicle at the Auto Show, the Mullen FIVE crossover SUV.

With a range of roughly 325 miles and max speed of 200 miles per hour, the Mullen FIVE could be one of the fastest EVs on the market -- and it'll boast a rapid acceleration time of 0-60 in a mere 1.9 seconds.

The Mullen FIVE will cost between $55,000 and $75,000 before incentives and CEO David Michery said during the presser production is scheduled to begin in fourth quarter of 2023. The vehicles aren't expected to begin shipping until second quarter 2024.

Mullen is also working on a line of electric fleet vans and its Dragonfly electric sports car is already available for reservations after debuting in 2019. The car's max speed is a roaring 125 miles per hour and its range is about 236 miles.

Edison Future's EF1-T electric pickup truckEdison Future's EF1-T electric pickup truck

Edison Future

Anaheim-based Edison Future will be at the Auto Show to showcase its two vehicles, the EF1-T electric pickup truck and the EF1-V electric delivery van.

Both vehicles are solar-powered in addition to being charged electrically, a feature Edison hopes will reel in more customers who might be worried about running out of battery while far from a charging station.

Edison Future EF1-V electric delivery vanEdison Future EF1-V electric delivery van

Several models of the EF1-T will be available, with a distance range of 300 miles to 450 miles on a full charge. Edison Future hasn't yet disclosed pricing for the electric truck or delivery van, and it didn't disclose a range for the van either.

Edison Future said during a press conference that it'll begin accepting reservations as soon as this month, and aims to deliver its cars starting in 2025.

Bilit Electric's GMW Taskman

Biliti Electric

Biliti Electric, a new company which launched this year and is based in Culver City, debuted an electric delivery vehicle at the Auto Show, called the GMW Taskman.

The vehicle is designed for commercial deliveries like Amazon and some models are already in use -- CEO Rahul Gayam said in a press conference Taskman vehicles have already delivered 12 million packages.

The vehicle has a range of 80-90 miles, but that can be greatly expanded thanks to a fold-out solar panel, which Gayam said can provide an added 110 miles. "You can rely on the sun for a 100% recharge," Gayam said.

The three-wheeled Taskman can carry loads of up to 1,500 pounds and is being produced by GMW Electric in India. Earlier this month, Biliti announced it raised $400 million from new investor GEM, which it said it will use to grow the business and accelerate its manufacturing to sell on a global scale.

Biliti said it will sell the Taskman in the U.S., U.K, Japan, Europe, U.A.E., India and Africa, with tiered pricing ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 per vehicle depending on the country purchasing (a lower price is available for India and other developing countries, Gayam said).

Canoo's electric van

Canoo

Canoo makes several electric vehicles including a loft-inspired lifestyle vehicle, a larger multi-purpose delivery vehicle, a pickup truck and one car that's yet to be named or revealed.

This year Canoo decided not to present at the Auto Show, perhaps because it's in the midst of some corporate transitions -- the formerly Torrance-based company announced this week it would move its headquarters to Bentonville, Arkansas and add factory capacity in Pryor and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Canoo opted for a smaller display at this year's show than usual, showcasing a demo of its lifestyle vehicle that it'd previously debuted several years ago. The company's stock rallied this week after it reported Q3 earnings and CEO Tony Aquila said it would accelerate its delivery timeline, beginning assembly of its vehicles a year ahead of schedule in 2023.

Fisker's Ocean SUV

Fisker

The Torrance-based car company founded by Henrik Fisker in 2016 will spring for a large display of several of its vehicles including the flagship Fisker Ocean SUV. Fisker said it will start production on the vehicles beginning in 2022.

On Wednesday the company debuted several versions of the Fisker Ocean vehicle, which it's been hyping up for several years. The Fisker Ocean One will be the company's first produced vehicle, limited to 5,000 units and retailing for about $69,000. The Ocean One will reach a range of 350 miles per full charge.

The full-wheel drive Fisker Ocean Sport is Fisker's lowest-priced offering, retailing for around $37,500 and packing 275 horsepower and a range of 250 miles on a full charge.

Fisker will also sell the Fisker Ocean Ultra, which will retail for roughly $50,000 and can go 0-60 miles per hour in a mere 3.9 seconds. The all-wheel drive car will have a range of up to 340 miles and 540 horsepower.

For speed enthusiasts, Fisker is lastly offering the most expensive version of the Ocean, the Ocean Extreme, which will feature a rotating center display and adds 10 miles of charge and 10 extra horsepower to the Ocean Ultra model.

The Ocean cars will begin production one year from today, Nov. 17, 2022. Fisker is contracting a production facility in Austria run by Magna Steyr to do the manufacturing and will then ship worldwide.


Bremach's 4x4 electric SUV

Bremach

A European-based automaker with an outpost in Costa Mesa, Bremach manufactures its SUVs and pickup trucks in Russia and then assembles and adjusts them for local regulations at its Southern California facility. It's the only company on the list that has a gas-powered vehicle.

Bremach's cars include a 4x4 SUV which will retail for an eye-poppingly low price of around $26,405.00. Its BRIO electric pickup truck is expected to retail for $27,882.00.

Neither car has been released to dealers but Bremach is taking pre-orders now for a planned delivery of 2022.

Unlike most other vehicle sellers, Bremach CEO and co-founder Ray Hoogenraad said the company will sell its cars through dealerships exclusively, so customers can get the full test drive experience. "I don't think it does the vehicle justice when you see it on the internet," Hoogenraad said during the press conference.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Bremach's vehicle was an electric car. It runs on gas.

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Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Andrew Fiouzi
Andrew Fiouzi is a freelance writer. He was previously a features writer at MEL Magazine where he covered masculinity, tech and true crime. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Long Reads and Vice, among other publications.
Hollywood Decentralized: Meet the Artists Using AI To Dethrone Tinseltown

When I first spoke to Jamil Mehdaoui, an architect and former Oculus employee, he’d just returned to Paris from a weeklong pilgrimage into the future of movie making. Mehdaoui describes his work as “a collaborative process” between himself and the artificial intelligence that brings dream worlds to life with just a few key words. On Zoom, he occasionally appeared frustrated. Eager. Unsure. Hopeful.

Like millions across the world, Mehdaoui is experimenting with Midjourney, a text to image program that generates images from a repository of data that spans the entire history of art and human existence as it’s cached online. Unlike millions, Mehdaoui is attempting to use this tool to make the first ever AI-generated feature film. And appropriately, he’s chosen to remake Pinocchio — the story of the first ever artificial boy.

Like the more well-known text to image AI tool — DALL-E — Midjourney’s output depends on art that’s already been made and photos already taken. But since Midjourney can’t read Mehdaoui’s mind (yet), it takes time to find the right levers to pull in order to get the AI to do what he wants it to.

For example, in Venice, Mehdaoui was focused on prompting the AI to generate images of a boy fashioned from gnarled, raw wood. The troubles were myriad. First, Mehdaoui says, “The moment you ask the AI for Pinocchio, you lose control. It puts you in Disney’s hands.” Meaning the images the AI generated were often too familiar. Too recognizable. The other issue was getting the AI to see or rather interpret beyond such a generic descriptor as “boy that looks like a log.” So, for days, Mehdaoui tinkered with his prompts until his fragmented vision, the one cradled only in his mind, came to life, authored by artificial intelligence.

As the director of the movie, Mehdaoui has full creative control over his AI-generated Pinocchio. But there’s no studio backing his project. Instead, he’s one of 750 artists, architects, AI engineers, storytellers, animators, game designers, interoperability explorers and business folks who have joined together to dethrone Hollywood.

The Culture DAO is a “metaverse guild” assembled by Edward Saatchi, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Fable, an artificial intelligence-powered virtual being company, and the founder of Oculus Story Studio. Members of the DAO include current and former storytellers from Pixar, Lucasilm and Oculus, many of whom are currently working on an amuse-bouche of fairy tales, horror flicks, animations and live-action shorts.

Saatchi assembled the guild out of a concern that the most zealous artists interested in AI might waste too much time playing around with new features. “You could go two years, making very small demos and creating nothing substantial that’s going to last for 100 years,” he says. And since Saatchi believes AI-generated media is the beginning of a new art form, it was important, he says, to “encourage artists to find personal stories they want to tell that are empowered by AI.”

One of those artists is Scott Lighthiser — a VFX artist who studied production in college and has been experimenting with filmmaking techniques ever since. “But when Stable Diffusion [another AI powered text to image model] was released I could generate super realistic cinematic images,” he says.

Unlike Mehdaoui, who’s using AI text to image programs to animate a feature film, Lighthiser is working iteratively on developing short live-action clips. He’s posted a few of these videos on Twitter. The response has largely been one of shock. It seems few people expected the AI to be this good, this quickly. The first video shows how Stable Diffusion can add a layer that further immerses Lighthiser’s own face into a purple-skinned character. The second flaunts Stable Diffusion’s ability to quickly disguise Lighthiser’s body, rendering variations of a hissing monster. That Lighthiser was able to create these short clips on his own, a week apart, is part and parcel of how the Culture DAO plans to take on Hollywood.

“Being able to make animated movies not in seven years but in several weeks or being able to make live-action, effect heavy, content not in several years with hundreds of millions of dollars but in several weeks and with thousands of dollars, I think is going to massively democratize what’s possible,” says Edward Saatchi.Their recent progress aside, Saatchi’s proposition to decentralize Hollywood by democratizing access to the resources of a studio is still in its infancy. The Culture DAO’s current slate of content is mainly focused on horror and animation. Horror because audience expectations around having stars and a big budget are lower and the AI program offers some really creepy effects. And animation because the output is more technically suited to AI text-to-image programs.


AI Pinnochio movie poster Image courtesy of Jamil Mehdaoui

But even in this time of great daydreams and ambition, not everything is going according to the plan. Since our initial conversation, Mehdaoui has already had to parcel his concept for the first feature length AI film into seven serialized episodes. And though Lighthiser’s short clips suggest a light at the end of the tunnel, they’re far from a finished product. “If we're talking about shooting an empty room and processing it to look like a 19th century Victorian mansion, I don't think we're there yet but probably pretty close,” says Lighthiser. “I think using AI in conjunction with LED Volume technology has the potential to be extremely powerful. But eventually you'd want to be able to take your phone out, point your camera at a barn and say ‘turn the barn into a spaceship’ and it renders it in real time.”

Naturally, there will always be detractors who argue any AI-generated art is merely “visual gibberish.” In fairness, much of what appears on Twitter does appear that way. Others critics have genuine ethics and copyright concerns. Like—what happens if everyone’s AI art steals from the same artist?

But Saatchi says these concerns are the growing pains at the frontier of a new artform. This moment, he says, is like the early days of Pixar. Back when the technology company failed to sell computer hardware and pivoted toward creating computer-animated shorts.

If even half of what the Culture DAO is promising becomes reality, Hollywood’s place as the entertainment capital of the world is imperiled. Most of the members of the DAO are spread all across the world. To some degree, this reckoning is already underway: In August Belfast-based composer and computer artist Glenn Marshall won the Jury Award at the Cannes Short Film Festival for his AI film “The Crow.”

More recently, Fabian Seltzer, co-founder of the Culture DAO along with Saatchi, was in the news for his AI-generated, choose-your-own-adventure movie fashioned after 70s-era sci-fi films. Both projects were essentially created out of an individual's home office.

“What I saw at Pixar—what I see in VFX— is that brilliant people who might not be entrepreneurial enough to start up their own studio, are being crushed in their creativity because it’s such a factory system,” says Saatchi. “It’s shifted to being about cost management and the creativity has gone down and these projects require so many people and so many resources.”

With AI, however, the number of people it takes and the amount of money required to make a Pixar-quality film doesn’t just have the potential to be cut in half, it might well be a fraction of the $200 million budgeted to produce many of these movies.

Saatchi’s message to the folks in Hollywood? “It’s time to get out and develop your own project.”

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