THE 2023 CHICAGO AUTO SHOW CONTINUES ITS STRONG REBOUND, SIGNALING A RETURN FOR AUTO SHOWS
The 115th edition of the Chicago Auto Show concluded on Monday, Feb. 20 after a successful 10-day run at McCormick Place that saw a dramatic increase in overall attendance compared to the previous year. The only major auto show not to miss a beat as a result of the pandemic, the Chicago show grew back to its traditional two-hall footprint in 2023 and welcomed more than 300,000 total attendees—100,000 more than the previous year.
“The buzz on the show floor this year was palpable,” said 2023 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Kevin Keefe. “You could just feel the energy and excitement from everyone that the Chicago Auto Show is not only back, but back in a big way.”
“We have kept our eye on the consumer since day one to ensure this show remains a high-quality, fun event for attendees of all ages, and we’re proud to see this strategy paid off,” Keefe continued.
“Not missing a show during the pandemic has proven critical to the momentum we’re enjoying now,” said Chicago Auto Show Co-General Manager Dave Sloan. “The goodwill we generated from the Special Edition Chicago Auto Show we staged in the summer of 2021 continues to pay dividends.”
The longest-running auto show in North America returned to a two-hall footprint this year filled with top-tier exhibits by global automakers, new vehicle introductions that made worldwide or national debuts, a host of interactive exhibits, indoor test tracks and outdoor test drive opportunities.
The 2023 show received significant vehicle introductions, including the 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th Anniversary editions, 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander, 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.
Notable new vehicles at the show included the BMW XM, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, Chevrolet Equinox EV, Chevrolet Trax, Dodge Hornet, Ford Mustang Dark Horse, Honda Accord, Honda Civic Type R, Honda CR-V, Honda Pilot, Hyundai IONIQ 6, Lamborghini Countach, Lexus RX, Lexus RZ, Maserati MC20 and Toyota Prius.
In addition, concept cars were prominently on display and included the Buick Wildcat, Chrysler Airflow, Dodge Charger Daytona SRT and Ram Revolution.
The show saw support from new and returning sponsors. 2023 premier partners included Autel, Cars.com, and Powering Chicago. Official sponsors included ComEd, NASCAR, and Wintrust.
Whether it's having fun with an off-road experience, learning about the capabilities of a pickup truck or taking an EV for a test drive for the first time, the show’s seven indoor test tracks and four outdoor test drive experiences offered more opportunities than ever before for consumers shop, learn and play. Across the 11 ride-and-drive opportunities, the show produced nearly 150,550 in-vehicle driving experiences.
“In speaking with the manufacturers that participated in an indoor test track and/or outdoor test drive, they noted that the total number of rides during our show far exceeded brand expectations,” said Jennifer Morand, Chicago Auto Show co-general manager.
“What’s really important is that research proves in-vehicle experiences increase the likelihood of the participant turning into a customer, which is why the nearly 150,550 rides over the course of just 10 days is even more incredible!” said Morand. “During the show I heard from a local Chevrolet dealer in the Southwest suburbs who said he had two of the best sales weekends in a long time—a direct impact from the Chicago Auto Show.”
The dealer attributed the heightened sales volume to not only the show itself, but everything that comes along with it including media attention, influence and digital awareness.
“We often talk about the ‘digital lift’ that comes along with an auto show; digital and social media are integral to the success and ‘lift’ that brands receive just by being a part of the show,” Morand said. “We work hand-in-hand throughout the year with exhibitors and sponsors to broadcast their content and messaging to our fans and followers through our robust and engaged communities including Drive Chicago Radio on WLS-AM, DriveChicago.com and via both Chicago Auto Show and Drive Chicago social media outlets. When brands invest in our show, they reap the benefits of a year-round partnership, not just during the 10-day event,” Morand added.
Camp Jeep, which celebrated its 3 millionth rider at the show, featured its popular indoor track where attendees could ride inside a range of the latest models and take on the 28-ft. hill at a 40-degree angle. More than 600,000 Camp Jeep rides have taken place at the Chicago Auto Show, far surpassing any other event where Jeep stages it.
Toyota tackled the four seasons on its electrified indoor track in the Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna and Tundra. Ram Truck Territory also returned with an indoor test track, an interactive ride experience with a 28,000-sq.-ft. in-truck adventure, to demonstrate the power and capabilities of the Ram Truck.
Hyundai demonstrated the all-electric IONIQ 5 with a brand-new test track right within its display. Ford returned with two indoor test tracks: Built Wild, showcasing the Ford Bronco’s off-roading capabilities, and Built to Electrify, thrilling passengers with the instant speed of the all-electric F-150 Lightning. Chicago Drives Electric made its debut in the form of a 100,000-sq.-ft. track allowing attendees the chance to experience a range of brand-new EVs including the BMW i7, BMW i4, BMW iX, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Nissan ARIYA and Volkswagen ID.4.
In addition to the test drives, several exhibits engaged attendees with interactives experiences such as Toyota’s Sports Festival, providing a wide range of hands-on Olympic activities for families, and Subaru’s National Parks immersive exhibit. The Subaru display came to life with unique scents and sounds and hundreds of live plants that were later donated to a local Chicago greenhouse and USO Great Lakes. A returning fan-favorite experience was Subaru’s daily dog adoption, a partnership with Anderson Humane that helped place more than 50 homeless dogs into the homes of show attendees.
The 2023 show also marked the return of fan-favorite specialty events on the show floor. The Toyota Miles Per Hour run hosted more than 500 runners on opening weekend for a 60-minute, 2.4-mile loop through the show floor—even on the Chicago Drives Electric EV track—where participants could record their own miles per hour. Toyota awarded the top three winners for men’s and women’s times at its post-run celebration in its display; winners clocked in at more than nine miles. Chicago Friday Night Flights, a craft beer sampling event within the show, returned for another round with a total of 10 local breweries on hand. More than 650 attendees purchased tickets to sample craft beers as they took in the show. 2023 marked the third year of the beer sampling event, drawing more than double the crowd from 2020.
This fan engagement and excitement translated to social media, supported by initial Meltwater data that reports the Chicago Auto Show's message reached more than 80 million people and #CAS2023 reached nearly 70 million, just over the last 90 days. Strong engagement is measured between the show and its fans across all social media platforms.
“We’re not done yet,” said Morand. “We collected a year’s worth of content from the show that we’ll be sharing with Chicago Auto Show fans on our social media channels until we open next February!”
The Chicago Auto Show is already underway with plans to return to McCormick Place in February 2024. The Media Preview will be Feb. 8-9; First Look for Charity will be the evening of Feb. 9; and the public show will be Feb. 10-19, 2024.
For more information on the 2023 Chicago Auto Show, visit www.ChicagoAutoShow.com. For high resolution photos and b-roll, visit www.ChicagoAutoShow.com/media/online-newsroom-gallery.
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