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2017 Chicago Auto Show getting set to rev its engines

January 27, 2017
Workers at McCormick Place have begun assembling the special lighting that will hang above the floor of the Chicago Auto Show. The public dates of the show are Feb. 11-20. 
The floor will be show-ready Feb. 9, but plenty will be happening even before the ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 11.
Concept & Technology Garage
With advancements in technology, safety features and tightening fuel economy standards, today's automobiles are becoming increasingly complex. The Concept & Technology Garage on Feb. 8 will give automotive media a great opportunity to take a deep dive into the latest concept cars, safety technologies and automotive telematics.
This year the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) is the presenting sponsor of the Concept & Technology Garage. SMDI representatives will be available to connect with media and industry reps and will have promotional material on hand. SMDI also will provide a hospitality area featuring beverages and snacks.
"A natural outgrowth of our traditional concept car drive, the Concept & Technology Garage will give local and national media an opportunity to dig deeper into today's automotive tech," said Dave Sloan, Chicago Auto Show general manager. 
"It's easy to report on fuel economy improvements or new safety features, but to actually understand how manufacturers implement new systems, that takes time. This event will give journalists the opportunity to get a handle on all this new technology."
"What Drives Her"
The Chicago Auto Show has teamed with Female Factor, Women in Automotive Conference and She Buys Cars to co-host its first networking reception, luncheon and award ceremony on Feb. 8. 
Bridget Brennan, author of "Why She Buys" and CEO of Female Factor, a Chicago-based consulting and training firm, will moderate the event that will honor and celebrate women with integral roles in the automotive industry.
"The Chicago Auto Show is the place to connect with consumers, particularly females who are driving the vehicle purchase decision," said Jennifer Morand, Chicago Auto Show director of PR and social media. "Foresight Research reports an upward tick in Chicago Auto Show female attendance year over year which has now become equal to male attendance - closing the gender gap. We're proud to report that about half of our show attendees are females."
Honing in on the automotive world, women are the primary buyers of cars and account for 85 percent of the purchase decision. Yet, females make up a very small portion of auto executives as males are the dominant group to design and sell the cars.
"Women are the engine of the consumer economy, and they are critically important to the automotive industry as both consumers and workforce talent," according to Brennan.
During the "What Drives Her" event, attendees will hear insights from Brennan's international best-seller book such as the need for marketers and salespeople to understand women's beliefs, values and sensitivities.
According to She Buys Cars Co-founder Scotty Reiss: "Women fall in love with the needs that they have and they search to have those needs filled. They look for economy, they look for comfort, for their second row and third row passengers. They look for charging capabilities for devices in the second and third row. You don't see that advertised on Sunday football."
To kick it all off, Facebook will host a 30-minute mimosa networking reception for audience members that will blend automakers, dealers, suppliers, industry media and social media influencers. Current panelists include Jody Hall, Steel Market Development Institute vice president, automotive market; and Kathy Gilbert, CDK Global director of sales and business development.
"What Drives Her" will be Feb. 8 at McCormick Place, immediately prior to the Concept & Technology Garage. The Chicago Auto Show will stream the event via Facebook Live.
FCA'S Gilles to open Media Preview
The show’s Media Preview will open Feb. 9 with the Midwest Automotive Media Association breakfast. MAMA will present the Family Vehicle of the Year award and introduce keynote speaker Ralph Gilles, head of design, FCA - Global.
Gilles is extremely active inside and outside FCA. He serves as the executive sponsor of the Chrysler African American Network in addition to playing a supporting role with The Chrysler Global Diversity Council. He also serves on the board of the Michigan Design Council. At his alma mater, The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Gilles is a member of the CCS Board of Trustees and the CCS Capital Committee.
"It's an honor to have someone of Ralph's caliber to open the nation's largest auto show," said Mike McGrath, 2017 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "FCA has long supported the Chicago Auto Show with executive addresses, important product introductions, indoor test tracks and the largest display it produces worldwide."
GM’s Ammann to kenote ECC luncheon
General Motors President Dan Ammann will be the keynote speaker at the Economic Club of Chicago Luncheon during the Media Preview of this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The luncheon will be Feb. 9.
"From electric propulsion to innovative connected technologies, General Motors is an industry leader," said Dave Sloan, Chicago Auto Show general manager. "As such, Dan is perfectly positioned to discuss how the auto industry moves forward over the next decade."
The ECC Luncheon at the Chicago Auto Show is a cornerstone event of the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview. Past speakers include Bill Ford, Jim Press, Henrik Fisker, Ralph Gilles, Jonathan Browning, José Muñoz and Yoshi Inaba. Last year, Lex Kerssemakers, senior vice president, The Americas Region and president and CEO Volvo Cars of North America, was the guest speaker ECC Luncheon.
Founded in 1927 to serve as a forum for Chicago's business community, the ECC is one of Chicago's finest business groups and has had a decade-long association with the Chicago Auto Show. The ECC has grown to become a premier institution, providing elite members of the business world with a platform to express and discuss economic, business and social issues. 
Indoor test tracks
Next month’s show will feature two additional indoor test tracks, swelling the total number of indoor riding opportunities for attendees to five. Returning are Camp Jeep, FCA multi-brand track and Toyota's RAV4 & Highlander Experience. New for 2017 is a Ram proving ground and Mercedes-Benz' "Iron Schöckl."
Named after the Schöckl, a mountain in Austria, the Iron Schöckl challenges the Mercedes-Benz G-Class by forcing it to undertake a 45-degree incline. Then, at the top, the G-Class enters a movable platform, teeters to point downward and undertakes a 45-degree descent.
Ram's proving ground boasts six stations designed to highlight the pickup's capabilities. They include an active level station, construction culverts, torque pull, towing demonstration, mountain climb and high-wedge turn.
"With two additional test track opportunities, we think more than 80,000 attendees will take rides on the show floor this year," said McGrath, the show chairman. "Our indoor test tracks combine with our outdoor test drive opportunities to create a show experience unlike any other in the nation."
Test tracks have been a Chicago Auto Show staple for 12 years. Back in 2005, Jeep built its first indoor test track at the Chicago Auto Show, and the brand has returned every year since.
Special days this year include:
Women's Day, Wednesday, Feb. 15
Women admitted for $7. Manufacturers present special women-oriented programs on the purchase and lease of cars and maintenance.
Chicago Auto Show Food Drive, Feb. 15-17
Show patrons who bring three cans of food will receive a coupon for a $7 adult admission. All food will be donated to A Safe Haven Foundation. 
Telemundo Hispanic Heritage Day, Feb, 17
Since 2007, Telemundo has partnered with the Chicago Auto Show to present special events including autograph signings to music performances.
Family Day, Monday, Feb. 20
Family-friendly events with fun games, prizes and entertainment.