The Chicago Auto Show has traditionally been considered more of a consumer show than an industry one. As such, it attracts fewer debuts and industry buzz than the Detroit show. However, it has steadily grown in attendance and, consequently, more automakers are taking the opportunity to show consumers new vehicles.
Largest attendance, largest venue
The show is the most attended in the nation. And while the organizers would not give attendance projections, that number seems to be on the rise. In 2011, the Chicago Auto Show attracted 10 percent more bodies than it did in 2010.
The show’s venue, McCormick Place, is giving up an astounding 1 million feet of exhibit space for the show. Easily the largest in the nation, it could fit the Detroit, New York and LA auto shows in its space at the same time. A veritable Disneyland for gear heads, the show boasts four indoor test tracks and five outdoor ones.
Exploiting the social media
Aaron Bragman, an industry analyst at IHS Automotive, said:
“It seems that the automakers have decided that it’s a great regional sales show. They don’t have the international media, but Chicago is a big market.”
That lack of media presence has sent the organizers of the show to the Internet, making a concerted push on the social media.
A press release for the auto show said:
“The show wants to utilize social media to the best of its advantage by helping manufacturers communicate with their fans. We believe that getting the word out via any social media avenue can only advantage the Chicago Auto Show and the manufacturers.”
Fewer debuts, more consumers
Last month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit debuted more than 40 new vehicles. While the Chicago show will unveil less than half that number, it will likely help move a lot of cars out of the showrooms.
Important show for imports
The show has a large impact on the import market, prompting several foreign automakers to reveal new models. Volkswagen will be showing its new diesel-powered Beetle TDI for the first time. Nissan plans to drive in its updated “Z” car. Hyundai’s new Elantra Coupe will also drop by. And Toyota’s new Land Cruiser will make its initial appearance.
Toyota also plans to take the opportunity to announce a stronger momentum, following its multiple recalls and setbacks because of natural disasters in 2011. The company’s president in North America, Yoshimi Inaba, is scheduled to speak.
Domestic automakers will be showing off some new wares as well. Ford plans to debut its much-anticipated Shelby GT-500 rag top. GM will unwrap its next generation mid-size crossover, Acadia. Jeep will pull the veil off its new Jeep Compass True North edition
Opens to the public Friday
The Chicago Auto Show kicks off Wednesday with two days of media previews. The public is welcome starting Friday.