For detailed information on each manufacturer press conference, click on the links below.
Dave Sloan, president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show general manager kicked off the 2012 Chicago Auto Show at the CATA/MAMA breakfast.
Sloan was followed by senior vice president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association Kirk Bell who introduced MAMA's second-annual Family Vehicle of the Year award. To qualify for the award, vehicles had to have four doors, start at less than $50,000, appear at one of MAMA's two annual rallies, and be new or significantly updated in within a year of the Spring Rally. Out of the eleven contenders, the three finalists were the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, 2011 Ford Explorer, and the 2012 Mazda Mazda5. Rainer Michel accepted the award for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat. The Passat was determined by the majority vote of the 68 automotive journalists that participated in voting.
The CATA/MAMA keynote speaker was John Maloney, President and CEO of Volvo cars of North America. Growing up outside of Chicago in Morton Grove, Maloney annually attends the Chicago Auto Show. He explained "how the downward trend of unemployment, positive consumer confidence and legislative polices will keep the automotive industry positively growing." Volvo is planning on only distributing four-cylinder engines to create more energy efficient vehicles.
According to Maloney, "a long-term goal for Volvo is for no person to be killed or seriously injured while driving a Volvo by the year 2020." He also added that "by using animal detection by camera based technology, cars will be able to detect large images nearing the vehicle. If nothing is done by the driver, the Volvo will automatically stop."
This morning in the North Hall at the GMC Display, U.S. Vice President of GMC Marketing, Tony DiSalle, introduced the 2013 GMC Acadia and Acadia Denali.
The 2011 Acadia had its best year yet with a 16% total sales increase. GMC saw a rise in Acadia customers with a 52% total increase. The new Acadia model has enhanced style, safety, and technology. It takes comfort and style to a new class of its own with a new bold face, grill, and glass-to-glass design.
"The new Acadia line’s safety and purposeful technology feature will greatly stand out far from the competition," said Susan Eckel, General Motors Vehicle Chief Engineer. "Safety is the name of the game."
This vehicle will benefit all age groups from infants to grandparents. From the new center side airbag to the color touch radio, and smart phone application, this is a vehicle that functions on all levels. The 2013 Acadia offers flexibility and the greatest amount of interior space yet for up to eight passengers.
The president of Hyundai, John Krafcik, kicked off his speech with much excitement, referring to the Chicago Auto Show as his favorite show in the nation. He went on to share just how well Hyundai sales are progressing. By the end of 2011, total Hyundai sales went up by 20%. In January of 2012, there was a 15% increase in sales, and a 19% retail increase. Much of this advancement can be attributed to the North American Car of the Year, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra. However, Krafcik was honest in admitting that not everyone is interested in the Sedan model. Therefore, Hyundai was proud to introduce two new vehicles to the Elantra family today.
The first new Elantra to be released will be the Elantra Coupe, which will hit showroom floors in spring of 2012. According to Michael O’Brien, Vice President of Hyundai, the Coupe is balanced, athletic, and sophisticated, all while offering the space of a Sedan. The new two door Elantra Coupe is the only one in its industry classified by EPA as a midsize car.
The second vehicle to be added to the Elantra family is the 2013 Elantra GT, to be released in the summer of 2012. The GT is the lightest five door hatchback in its segment. To demonstrate just how light the car is, Miles Johnson, the Product Public Relations Manager of Hyundai, joined O’Brien on the floor. By carrying different weighted dumbbells, he compared the lightweight GT to its heavier competitors, the Mazda 3, the Ford Focus, and the VW Golf. In addition to only weighing 2,784 pounds, the Elantra GT boasts three different steering modes, storage and seating features for five passengers, and is the best- in-class standard fuel economy.
The enthusiasm and excitement of the Elantra, being the first car to be offered in three different styles was highly visible through Krafcik and O’Brien’s speech. 2012 will show how well the new Elantra Coupe and the GT will impact Hyundai’s already increasing sales. Hyundai already overshadows their competition in many different areas, and the Elantra GT and Elantra Coupe are expected to increase their positive image even more in the auto industry.
Kia Motors electrified their news conference this morning starting off with their commercial from this year’s Super Bowl featuring an man wearing footed pajamas waking up to his alarm clock. It was a great way to segment into Kia’s new overall focus and drive for the 2012 year.
Vice president of sales, Tom Loveless, served as the spokesperson saying "Kia has been living the dream for the past few years." What’s driving Kia’s growth, according to Loveless, is "its company of doers and creative marketing." He made note of the critiques and awards given to Kia in the last year and thanked its customers for their loyalty. Out of the whole automotive industry, Kia had the highest brand loyalty last year. This began with their thrilling and fun television advertisements for the Kia Soul.
Loveless commented that, "The Kia hamsters and the Kia Soul earned Kia two awards and were voted the number one most viewed video on YouTube with 14.5 millions views and counting." This introduced Kia to a younger, more innovative market.
Kia’s newest concept is the Kia Trackster, the "heavy metal version" of the Kia Soul. The Trackster concept is a high performance vehicle with an electronically controlled all-wheel drive system. Loveless ended the conference by encouraging the audience to "keep dreaming."
After a brief history of the 1993 Cobra Mustang, the Executive Director of Ford, Hau Thai-Tang, proudly introduced their newest Mustang addition- the Shelby GT 500 Mustang Convertible.
The convertible is the newest drop top model to celebrate the SVT’s 20-year anniversary. Another feature that helps celebrate the anniversary is a commemorative-lighted SVT door-sill plate. Ford is always looking to push Mustang to its limits, and this model is no exception. There are two driving modes, a high performance driving mode and a daily driving mode, which the operator can choose with the switch of a button. The Shelby GT also has a new Brembo Brake System.
The 2013 Shelby Convertible has a super-charged V-8 engine that helps the convertible reach a top track speed of more than 200 miles per hour. It’s optimized for peak performance like the GT 500 Coupe. Aside from these details, Ford did not give any other performance estimates, only promising that it would be the fastest production Mustang convertible offered by the company.
In the past 20 years, Ford has continued to improve the performance of their vehicles, as we saw from the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra and the brand new 2013 Shelby GT 500 Mustang Convertible that were on display. Since the unveiling of the 1993 Mustang, SVT has produced more than 210,000 cars and trucks during its impressive 20-year history.
Economic Club of Chicago Luncheon
The annual Economic Club of Chicago luncheon at the McCormick Place Grand Ballroom was anything but ordinary. For keynote speaker, President and COO of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Yoshimi Inaba, Chicago holds a special place in his heart: "Chicago’s deep dish pizza is the best!"
Inaba emphasized the auto industry’s big return this past year since the economic downturn. The auto industry is responsible for approximately eight million jobs and will be adding 50,000 new jobs in the future. These are impressive figures, and Toyota has taken notice.
By answering customers’ needs in terms of energy efficiency and job opportunities, Toyota has many plans for their future. They will be opening a new Toyota plant in Princeton, Indiana, which will create 400 new jobs. Toyota has upgraded their car models with technology features, including smart phone applications, which will help drivers avoid distractions. They expect of have 50% of their car inventory to be hybrid, a goal that they see as a necessity to become environmentally friendly.
Toyota’s impressive plans this year will considerably increase their presence in America. They are listening to their customers and providing features that they want and need. "Customers want look, efficiency and cost satisfaction," said Inaba. "We are entering a year of innovation that is altering transportation."
Nissan vice president of commercial vehicles and fleet, Joe Castelli enthusiastically introduced its newest vehicles to its commercial vehicle family at this afternoon’s press conference.
The 2013 Nissan NV 200 was revealed at the conference. It received the international van of the year award in Europe and is sold in 40 countries. The characteristics that set the NV 200 apart from its competitors are the car-like maneuver, the ease of use, a low floor for easy accessible loading, and center console perfect for storing a laptop and files. This innovative vehicle’s price is substantially less than its competitors as well. Castelli noted the price will be released later this year. It provides maximum space at a minimum cost.
The Nissan NV 200 is an essential business tool and even has an energy produced counterpart, eNV200, which is being introduced later this year. The NV200 Taxi is also being added to the product line in April and is "The Taxi of Tomorrow for New York City."
This year Chrysler turns the Alfa Romeo Giulietta into its newest model, the Dodge Dart. Alfa Romeo, a company working with Chrysler, has opened up new design opportunities for their vehicles. They hope to give more power to the customers by giving them the ability to customize the interior and exterior of their automobile.
Kathy Graham, a Dart PR representative, explained how the Giulietta has an Alfa Romeo underside with a Dodge cover. Customers can choose the types of colors they want inside their car. Though compact car owners usually lean toward a more bland appearance, she says that this will allow customers to bring a "splash of color" and personality to its overall look. Chrysler is excited to give more design control to the consumers.
The new 2013 Dodge Dart will offer consumers a blend of Italian style and performance. The most common features of the Dart are Alfa Romeo DNA, fuel-efficiency, design, and fun driving features. The Giulietta is known for its road-holding, safety, and driving dynamics. The 2013 Dodge Dart was created to maintain the same similar attributes.
The company that is involved in the making of accessories for Chrysler vehicles is Mopar. The newest accessories presented at the Chicago Auto Show exhibit focused on security and safety. Mopar wants to protect the consumer by installing GPS stolen vehicle locators, nationwide 24/7 emergency resolution centers, and theft guarantee. Many of the Mopar accessories can be found on the Dodge Dart.
The hustle of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show can be overwhelming and tiring, but luckily there is a place to unwind in the midst of the commotion.
The BP Refuel Station is a great hassle free, subtle environment. It offers modern but comfortable lounge seating, snacks and refreshments, free wireless Internet, charging stations for electronics, and even an X-Box station to occupy the young visitors.
In addition to a relaxing and re-energizing atmosphere, BP has their smartest technical professionals on hand to help visitors understand how additives in their invigorate fuel help automobiles create a few more miles per tank over time. In the back of the refuel lounge is a split engine vehicle on display to help drivers visualize how the additives work.
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for BP, Kevin Phelan, expressed the importance of BP in Chicago, "BP is the number one fuel supply in Chicago, which makes BP feel at home at the auto show," said Phelan. "People in the Midwest look to BP as a good quality product. It is their brand of choice and saves them money everyday without having to go out of their way", he added.
Phelan encourages any auto show visitors to take a break and refuel at the BP Refuel Station, and from personal experience, it is definitely worth the stop.
The presentation of this year’s MotorWeek choice awards was held on the Grand Concourse Stage at the Chicago Auto Show. John Davis, the executive producer and creator, started off the ceremony with information about the new developments of the program. He assured viewers that they will have full-access to episodes by various media channels and their website.
Best of the Year award went to the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. After unveiling a lime green model of the winning car, Ford Mustang Marketing Manager, Jim Owens, accepted the award. He explained how "this car incorporated great driving dynamic, while still having fun on the street."
Of the MotorWeek staff, 15 judges were selected to vote on this year’s winners in 15 different categories. Overall, 150 cars and trucks were evaluated. Decisions are based on performance, technology, practicality, fuel efficiency and dollar value.
For a full list of this year’s award winners go to MotorWeek’s website: www.pbs.org/motorweek.
Continental Automotive Technology
Continental’s showcase offered in-vehicle simulations and touch screen technologies from the Chassis & Safety and the Interior and Powertrain divisions.
The following technologies were highlighted:
Emergency Steer Assist: This safety technology offers a vehicle simulator that provides a first-hand experience of an accident avoidance maneuver. The participant "drives" a stationary vehicle through the simulation environment that replicates the experience of a potential accident and shows how the new steering technology can prevent this.
Simplify Your Drive: This vehicle allows the driver to personalize the driving experience, including their motor, chassis and infotainment settings. The hands-on interior demonstration at the Chicago Auto Show allows visitors to maximize the vehicles full functional potential and choose different driving settings.
Double Clutch Transmission: This high-performance powertrain technology is designed to lower fuel consumption and maximize the driving experience. The control unit offers a double clutch transmission and features technology that allows the driver to simplify the interaction with the car while driving. A user can modify basic controls of the car through a "one-touch" system. When the car is stationary, you can bring up news, and multimedia with the wave of the hand in front of the control unit to move the media from in front of the driver into the center dash. The control unit helps provide excellent environment capability while delivering a sporty and comfortable driving experience
Continental will also showcase its new-to-market turbocharger technology at the show.
Mopar is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and showed off its new accessories in Dodge and Chrysler vehicles in the South Hall of the Chicago Auto Show. President and CEO of Mopar, Pietro Gorlier, explained that Mopar has over a half million products and is sold in 120 countries. The vehicles they are featuring in the auto show are a "tribute to Mopar’s DNA."
Director of Marketing for Mopar, Tricia Hecker, introduced us to the Jeep Compass Canyon True North, a cousin to the Jeep Wrangler. The Compass Canyon has every capability of the Wrangler, but with a softer finish. It features a two-inch lift kit for off-roading. Mopar also designed a system to measure pitch and roll when the vehicle is off-roading.
The Dodge Dart GTS 210 Tribute was introduced by Jim Sassorossi, the director of sales and marketing for Mopar. The vehicle was inspired with racing features in mind. It includes a carbon fiber hood, a Mopar performance breaking system and an increased breaking system of 183 horsepower.
Sassorossi also introduced the media to the Mopar 2012 Chrysler 300. The vehicle was modeled after the older muscle cars featuring a performance breaking system and a unique owner’s kit. Chrysler’s pick up speed from 0 to 60 is now in the low five second range, thanks to Mopar and Chrysler’s enhancements.
Each of the vehicles featured has over 150 Mopar accessories that can be added to it. For more information on Mopar and its products visit its website, www.mopar.com.
The vice president of Philanthropy and Community Affairs, Michael Rouse, made a very exciting and surprising announcement at today’s Social Media Day at the Chicago Auto Show.
He began by giving a brief summary of the 100 Cars for Good philanthropy from 2011. This program enabled non-profit charities to apply through Facebook to be one of 100 recipients of a new Toyota vehicle. After narrowing it down to 500 from a pool of 3,000 applicants, 100 cars were given away in 100 days to charities nationwide. Voting began in May for 100 days, and over that period more than a half million votes were cast.
A representative from the Chicago Zoological Society took a few moments to share how much winning a Toyota vehicle through 100 Cars for Good has positively impacted their day to day operations. Five other charities from the Chicago area joined the Chicago Zoological Society in winning a new Toyota in 2011.
Following in suite of the Social Media Day theme, Rouse then turned the audience’s attention to the big video screen, where Twitter was displayed and they announced their exciting news for 2012. Shown on Toyota’s Twitter stream was the following tweet:
Announcing the return of our #100Cars for Good program at @ChiAutoShow's Social Media Day #CAS2012.
Toyota will begin accepting applications for the second year of 100 Cars for Good on March 12 for two weeks or until they reach 5,000 applications. This year they will be giving away Siennas, Camrys, Tundras, Highlanders, and Priuses. As an added bonus, each vehicle will include a six-year 100,000 mile service agreement. The 400 finalists that are not chosen as vehicle recipients will receive a $1,000 check from Toyota.
A short video concluded the announcement, which showed how thankful last year’s recipients were, and how excited Toyota is to begin its second year of 100 Cars for Good.
After more than 60 years of designing and manufacturing their own vehicles, Nissan has decided to put the work in the hands of their loyal customers. Erich Marx, the Director of Interactive Marketing and Social Media for Nissan, announced Project 370Z today. This project is a social media activation that allows Nissan’s Facebook followers to vote, share their opinions, and comment on many different components of the newest Z model, which will hit showroom floors in June 2012.
Marx is excited to give consumers the opportunity to have a voice in how they would design their dream Nissan Z, especially in the social networking world.
"People follow us in social spaces because we build really cool cars," said Marx.
The Nissan Performance Facebook page was launched today, which will be the home to polls and comments about the new Z design for the next ten weeks. The Z will be built in Los Angeles, and the process will be filmed and posted online for viewers to see. The final product will be revealed on May 17, 2012, at "Zdayz" in the Great Smokey Mountains in Eastern Tennessee.
Cook County Board
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle Launches "Commit to Cook" at 2012 Chicago Auto Show.Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle announced that she is launching a "Commit to Cook" campaign which engages the residents of Cook County to support local businesses. The idea is that the business community would then help boost the economy. The campaign "Commit to Cook" has a goal to create 2,500 new jobs.
Standing by her was Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. McLaughlin supports Preckwinkle’s campaign stating that he would stand behind "Commit to Cook". He hopes the campaign will be brought to Orland Park.