"I'm smiling for two main reasons," said John Maloney, president of Volvo Cars of North America. "Not only am I here to share some of the many reasons why Volvo is the fastest-growing luxury brand in America, but I personally feel at home here at the Chicago Auto Show because Chicago is home. You see, Chicagoans never really leave, they just visit other places on their way back!"
Maloney opened the first day of the media preview for the Chicago Auto Show at the Midwest Automotive Media Association breakfast.
Maloney recalled that even though he grew up nearby, each boyhood trip downtown was special because it was like venturing into a familiar but different world full of tall buildings, busy streets, bustling neighborhoods and, of course, a lot of good food.
"The Chicago Auto Show was an annual tradition for my family and it spurred my love for cars-especially muscle cars," recalled Maloney. "In fact, while I was in college, I drove a 1973 Plymouth Duster 340. Loaded with torque, it was a four-speed with American Racing wheels. Today, my tastes in power and performance are unchanged-only with Swedish muscle and the S60 R-design that I drive. My heart still jumps when I think about the beautiful growl it made ripping down the highway!"
Maloney pointed that out because it's something we all can relate to. He said we all have an affinity for cars, nearly everyone has a car story to tell, and the Chicago Auto Show is where many of those stories are born for thousands of visitors each year.
Maloney said it's fitting that the nation's largest and longest-running auto show would serve as a platform to communicate that the U.S. auto industry is on very solid footing by showcasing the fun, dynamic, customer-centric products we all see and enjoy here in Chicago.
In the broad picture, the auto industry is positioning for strong days ahead, led by advances in technology; vehicles that address the lives and purchasing decisions of consumers; and an overall vision to adapt more quickly to an ever-changing marketplace.
Volvo grew 25 percent domestically and 20 percent globally, the best percentage improvement of any luxury premium brand.
Consumer confidence-which runs in tandem with employment trends-is up again to levels not seen since April 2011. While it's too soon to tell where we'll eventually land, consumer attitudes bounced back in time for the November 2011 holiday shopping season, after lagging for months.
What does that all mean?
"For the industry, it means we're building momentum," Maloney commented.
"For Volvo, it means that innovation will be front and center. We will continue to raise our luxury cache, to raise the performance and efficiency of our vehicles, all while burnishing the exclusive mantle of safety to which only Volvo can lay claim.
"While our safety leadership is unquestionably what underscores everything we do at Volvo, we know that consumers look for more than safety," he continued. "They look for, well, 'looks.'"
The Volvo Concept You, which was on display in Chicago, is a bold step that gives a nod to the future of Volvo design. The Concept You combines a sleek, coupe-like exterior with a luxurious, high-tech interior that keeps the driver in command via intuitive, smart pad technology. Stefan Jacoby, Volvo Car Corporation's president and CEO, has made it clear that the brand will have a gasoline-powered plug-hybrid on the U.S. market in a few years, but he has yet to determine in which model it will debut.
"To summarize," concluded Maloney, "This is an exciting time for the industry, an exciting time for Volvo. And Chicago is an ideal venue to highlight where we're collectively headed as automakers.
"Here in Chicago, we can enjoy our connection to this industry, from the people we meet to the cars we get to see and drive, and to share our enthusiasm with others. Yes, we are here-and will continue to be-at the Chicago Auto Show, the biggest consumer show in the nation."
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