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The Chicago Auto Show concluded a successful nine-day run this past weekend. Highlights included more than 20 vehicles that made their global debut, a dazzling array of concept cars, participation from every volume manufacturer and three indoor test tracks.

“If the interest and excitement in the Chicago Auto Show is a barometer of the direction in which the auto industry continues to head, we’re in remarkable shape,” said 2016 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Colin Wickstrom. “Chicagoans are extremely fortunate to have the nation’s largest auto show right in their backyard, as this particular show attracts fans from across the country and garners worldwide attention from top-tier media.”

To back up the positive sentiment surrounding the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, industry experts predict that car sales will continue to rise. In 2015, a record 17.4 million new light vehicles were retailed, up 5.8 percent from 2014, according to WardsAuto. The National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) forecasts another year of growth in 2016, estimating more than 17.7 million new light vehicles will be purchased or leased, about a 2 percent increase from 2015, to set back-to-back records.

Widely known as the “consumer auto show,” the Chicago Auto Show sparks interest among attendees and, ultimately, ignites sales in time for the spring market. Show organizers continue to work with automakers to bring prestigious global debuts, dazzling displays and top concept cars, which continue to engage show attendees.

The 2016 show surely didn’t disappoint, boasting more than 20 global debuts including the Kia Niro, Ram Power Wagon, Nissan Armada, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Chevrolet Trax, Hyundai Santa Fe and Infiniti Q50 among others. More than a dozen concept cars also took center stage including the Acura Precision, Buick Avista, Genesis Vision G, Kia Telluride and Nissan Murano Winter Warrior.

Taking advantage of the large number of attendees, the Chicago Auto Show is also a leader in technology and social media activations. The show again provided free Wi-Fi to all attendees and engaged fans via its official mobile app. Fans who downloaded the mobile app even had a chance to win an all-new Buick Encore, and the more they utilized the app on the show floor, the more chances they had to win. In addition, the mobile app incorporated cutting-edge beacon technology designed to message attendees as they approached significant vehicles or sponsor-activation areas, while also collecting important data for show organizers and exhibitors.

The Chicago Auto Show continues to engage with its fans on social media, reaching millions. The show’s #CAS16 was again a top trending hashtag on Twitter during the Media Preview and directly reached 40 million people totaling 25,000 tweets, up significantly over 2015. Fans could also view their tweets and Instagram posts on a social media wall within a hub where the social media team also hosted a series of Twitter chats and blogger meet-ups throughout the show.

“Our social media strategy is to amplify the news and messaging of our exhibitors by tapping into our thousands of social media fans and attendees to help spread the word,” said Chicago Auto Show General Manager David Sloan. “We encourage fans to share pictures and videos through their social media platform of choice by rewarding them with prizes throughout the show, and utilize that engagement in aggregate to identify trends – similar to the structure of a focus group – and improve the show in the future.”

Consumers also have a voice at the Chicago Auto Show. In the 11th annual Best of Show balloting, attendees selected the following winners in five categories.

  • Best All-New Production Lexus LC 500
  • Best Concept Vehicle: Buick Avista
  • Best Green Vehicle: Chevrolet Volt
  • Best Exhibit: Chevrolet
  • Vehicle I'd most like to have in my driveway: Ford GT

“Best of Show voting has become a benchmark measure for our exhibiting manufacturers, and winning in any category is quite significant,” said Wickstrom. “With more than 1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space, it’s impressive when certain vehicles and displays rise above to capture the public’s attention.”

The evening before the show opened to the public, the Chicago Auto Show attracted more than 9,000 guests for its annual First Look for Charity event, a black-tie gala that has raised more than $44 million for 18 local charities since its inception. This year, the benevolent event raised more than $2.6 million for area charities, the most in one year for the benefit since 2008.

Planning is already underway for the 109th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The 2017 show will return to 10 days, opening on Feb. 11 and running through Feb. 20, taking advantage of the Presidents Day holiday. The 2017 Media Preview will be Feb. 9-10, and First Look for Charity will be Feb. 10, 2017.

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