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The Chicago Auto Show: What to expect this year
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 7627 times since Wed Feb 8, 2012
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The 104th edition of the Chicago Auto Show will take place Feb. 9-19 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.

"First Look for Charity" is a black-tie event that will take place Feb. 9, 6:30-10:30 p.m. ( Blues Traveler is slated to perform. ) The public show runs 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 10-18, and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Feb. 19. Admission for the public show is $7-$11.

The show utilizes 1.2 million square feet of the McCormick Place complex. ( McCormick Place offers a total of 2.7 million square feet of exhibit halls, with an additional 700,000 square feet of meeting-room availability. )

Exhibitions include multiple world and North American introductions; a complete range of domestic and imported passenger cars and trucks; sport utility vehicles; and experimental or concept cars. In total, nearly 1,000 different vehicles will be on display.

Attendees will have the opportunity to renew their driver's licenses, order vehicle stickers and license plates, order handicap placards, and sign up to be organ/tissue donors. The secretary of state's office will be in McCormick Place's South Hall.

Windy City Times talked with Auto Show co-chair Mike Ettleson ( principal of Ettleson Cadillac-Buick-GMC in Hodgkins, Ill., and Ettleson Hyundai in Countryside ) about everything from crowds to trends.

Windy City Times: Approximately how many people are expected to attend?

Mike Ettleson: That's a good question. My guess would be—based on previous years—about 700,000 to 800,000. Ticket sales are up, based on the same time frame as last year, so it seems like there's more interest earlier. Even in my own dealership, where I give out tickets to customers, it seems like there's more interest.

WCT: I know that every year the show reflects automotive trends. What can people expect in this year's show?

Ettleson: I think a lot of it is going to be [ about ] alternate fuels, so you'll see gas-electric hybrids and more electric cars. You're also going to see some technology where your iPhone or iPad are automatically integrated in the car; your stuff will appear on the screen and you can download music or emails you have. There's more what I call synchronizing technology, where the car might read emails to you.

You're also going to have more safety features. One of my GMC Terrains alerts you if you get too close to a car in front of you, or your radio might shut off [ if the distance is too close ] . There are also lane-departure warnings, where it alerts you if you're wandering out of the lanes. I've also heard of something with cameras all around the car.

WCT: Last year was my first time at the show...

Ettleson: Really? I've been going since I was 5; last year was probably my 45th time. My dad sold Chevrolets for many years so I went for many years. I actually went by myself with another friend when I was 10 years old.

WCT: It's a different time now; that couldn't happen. But last year, I didn't realize there was such a military presence. Is that happening this year as well?

Ettleson: Yes, it is. The U.S. Army, for some reason, feels it's a great venue to display and do some military recruiting. They purchase space just like everyone else. I wanna say they're buying a tiny bit more space than last year.

WCT: I was around the tank last year.

Ettleson: Yeah, that's fun—who wouldn't want to hang around that? A couple years before, they had a helicopter there. People could climb into that.

WCT: Last year, there was a security incident where several cars were vandalized. Is security being beefed up this year?

Ettleson: We've always had very good security. We may add one or two more people but, truthfully, we caught and prosecuted [ the offenders ] —they were high school kids or something like that. I don't know if we need any more security like that. Our security works, and they're plain-clothes; you wouldn't know they're around.

WCT: So what would you say are the must-see stations or items at the show?

Ettleson: That's a good question. Being from the brand that I represent—so I'm biased—Cadillac will have two new models there. One is going to be the XTS, and the other is the ATS; they're not on the road yet, and one is top-of-the-line while the other is entry-level.

There are going to be a lot of concepts there. Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep are going to have three separate tracks, where you can ride in their cars. Toyota will also have a track.

But make sure you go to both sides of the hall. I'm not sure what concepts will be there; I haven't gotten my press kit yet. I know that GMC is unveiling a product, and they haven't told me what it is yet! My curiosity is piqued.

See for more info.

This article shared 7627 times since Wed Feb 8, 2012
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