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The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), the area’s new-car dealer association and producer of the Chicago Auto Show, is plugging into the electric vehicle (EV) revolution by hosting its first-ever Chicago Drives Electric event, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, aimed at educating media and consumers on the topic and how franchised new-car dealerships play a critical role in widespread EV adoption. The event will also serve as a forum for policy makers to share their EV adoption and infrastructure plans around the initiative.

In alignment with National Drive Electric week, Chicago Drives Electric will help raise awareness of the many benefits of all-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles and help consumers understand how EVs can fit individual needs and lifestyles. In addition to putting interested parties behind the wheel of some of the latest EVs, event organizers are bringing in a variety of experts to help break down the various aspects of EV ownership and tackle complex topics such as range anxiety; at-home charging solutions; on-the-go charging and infrastructure; tax credits and incentives; and where people can begin their search. On-hand experts will include, CHARGE Enterprises, ComEd and Powering Chicago.

Automakers will have product specialists on hand throughout the event who will field consumer questions and as they relate to the vehicle brands they represent. Participating automakers include Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Volkswagen and Volvo showcasing a variety of EVs like the Ford F-150 Lightning, Kia EV6 and Volkswagen ID.4, among others.

Registrations for the event were limited to a first come, first served basis. The consumer interest and initial response has been overwhelming; all registration timeslots were filled in less than 12 hours from a single email invitation to the Chicago Auto Show attendee database. 

The CATA plans to carry the Chicago Drives Electric branding and name over to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show with the Chicago Drives Electric Indoor EV Track. To help the burgeoning EV market grow faster than it already has, the Chicago Auto Show debuted its first indoor multi-brand EV track during the 2022 Chicago Auto Show last February. Next year, organizers say the track will triple in size and the area will be enhanced as an EV education destination for show-goers, featuring panel discussions with experts available throughout the show to address consumer questions.

“Hosting Chicago Drives Electric this fall will be a great way to test drive the programs we want to implement during the 2023 Chicago Auto Show, while making essential connections in the EV space,”
said Jennifer Morand, co-president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and co-general manager, Chicago Auto Show. “This next stage of EV adoption will mean getting everyday consumers into mass-market vehicles, and new-car dealerships will be critical to this process.”
In the largest and most comprehensive survey ever conducted of prospective EV buyers in the U.S., the independent analytics firm Escalent presented future EV buyers with a factory sales model and a franchise dealership model. The study found 57% of potential EV buyers prefer the traditional approach to car buying.
In addition, most of the 30,000 people Escalent surveyed said they prefer to have many of the phases of the car-buying process, including test driving, completing the transaction and getting the EV services, take place in-person at a dealership.
This research proves that the franchised dealership model works just as well for EVs as it does for gas-powered vehicles.

“The EV customers of yesterday can’t be compared to today’s EV buyer,” added JC Phelan, CATA chairman. “With game-changing technology like EVs, personal service and education is needed now more than ever before. Plus, the customer wins. Because local dealerships compete for customers on sales and service, the result is that pricing is competitive, and service is plentiful with a nationwide network of local new-car dealers.”

For more information, visit: Chicago Drives Electric test drives are reserved exclusively for the public who pre-registered for the event. A waitlist has opened at

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