Car manufacturers spend millions of dollars each year on auto shows. These shows are their opportunity to communicate with local drivers, but more importantly to reach out to international media. The Los Angeles Auto Show is one of the largest annual conventions in the world.

The Cosby Sweaters team was lucky enough to get VIP access to the Los Angeles Auto Show. The showcase this year was very exciting. Nineteen World Debuts and ten North American Debuts. We were thrilled to get knee deep in cars.

LA Auto Show rocked by Apple

By and large, the focus of many of the auto manufacturers was on fuel-efficiency. As was evident in the premier of The Nissan Leaf and attention to the Chevrolet Volt as the show’s Green Car of the Year. While there are definite innovations and breakthroughs in automobile industry this year, it was the way in which the manufacturers chose to communicate with the masses within the Los Angeles Convention Center walls that caught my eye. Over and over again, every car manufacturer that had any serious interest in interacting with their consumers used Apple products. (see gallery below)

While the behemoths of the automobile industry were shelling out millions on promotional models, car cutaways, two story displays, giant Lazy Susans, and full-color brochures to get foot traffic and media traction, Apple didn’t spend a dime and got all the action. Almost every corner we turned, we seemed to be greeted by a young woman holding an iPad asking for our email address. There might be more efficient ways to retrieve valuable customer contact information, but nothing is more fun and personal than a pretty girl with an iPad.

BMW integrates the iPad at the 2010 LA Auto Show

In recent years, touchscreen displays at car shows have always been popular. People like to touch cars with their hands; consuming car data is no different. Apple has allowed convention exhibitors to effectively and easily integrate touch screens throughout their showroom space. Instead of installing cumbersome Windows desktops and monitors, Apple has made it all too easy and relatively inexpensive. From ever-changing wall displays to car info sheet accoutrement, the iPads kept the Auto Show attendees interested and often times more intrigued with the display than the car herself. Whether it was a short film, a picture gallery or an app to design your own 6-figure car, the iPad was there to demonstrate with its user-friendly ease.

When show space required a larger display than an iPad, Nissan placed several iMacs with touch screen capabilities throughout. Depending on the moment, these brought more attention than their new Leaf. When Lexus needed to innovate, they placed fifteen iPod touches with five more iPads, all running the same app, on a single wall next to their CT 200h.

Nissan integrates ther Apple at the 2010 LA Auto Show

One could say that the touchscreen interface or the tablet won the auto show, but that assumption is completely false. Others tried. Apple still dominated. At General Motors showcases, over-sized Verizon Android phones littered about, illustrating GM car models and OnStar service. These were largely walked past and ignored. Why? Because over-sized Android phones do not exist in the real world and the over-sized buttons surely did not work either. Come back when you are trendy.

The only way we may no longer see the Apple logo on every other automaker’s floor is when they finally come out with their next must-have, killer product, the iSedan. No one will care that it was made in China.