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Volvo's 2018 LA Auto Show stand won't have any cars

The Swedish automaker will instead focus on "the future of mobility" by showcasing its various tech partnerships and connected services.

Volvo LA Auto Show
Volvo's 2018 LA Auto Show presence will look very different from last year's display, pictured here.

While we media types tend to focus on the news and debuts associated with an auto show, the truth is, these events are really held with consumers in mind. Auto shows are a way to get butts in seats, allowing new car shoppers to interact with a brand's products firsthand. So why, then, won't Volvo's Los Angeles Auto Show stand have any cars?

"We want to highlight the big changes that are going on right now," Mårten Levenstam, one of Volvo's product strategy executives, told Roadshow in a phone interview earlier this week. "We want to discuss what the future of automobility will be."

To that end, Volvo will use its LA display to showcase its various connected services and tech partnerships. Instead of lots of cars parked next to each other, showgoers will be met with interactive displays that highlight the company's Care by Volvo subscription service, the Volvo On Call remote smartphone app, Google's vision of the automaker's next-generation infotainment system, in-car package delivery with Amazon Alexa and more. The closest thing to a car on display will be the interior of Volvo's 360c concept, offering a vision of Volvo's autonomous future.

Levenstam says the automaker's stand will be made up of "smaller stations" and "will have spokespeople from Volvo as well as our partners." When asked if customers will actually be able to order a new vehicle subscription through Care by Volvo display, Levenstam said, "I think so, yes, that's the plan."

Volvo chose to do this at the Los Angeles Auto show because "the things we're showing are the things we're actually doing on the West coast," Levenstam said. The LA Auto Show has a huge tech/mobility tie-in, so it makes sense.

That said, don't expect Volvo to repeat this effort at future shows. Levenstam said that while this is a neat, one-time activation for the Los Angeles expo, "most likely we will also show cars in the future."