Chicago Automobile Trade Association

2019 Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show's 111th edition ended its 10-day public run Feb. 18 with officials of the nation's best-attended auto show reporting a bump in attendance this year despite the slowing market.
"As the nation's largest consumer auto show, we know people come here to shop," said Ray Scarpelli Jr., chairman of the just-wrapped edition. "According to Foresight Research, nearly 70 percent of adults who visited the show are in the market to purchase a vehicle within 12 months. That's what makes the Chicago show stand out from other shows and experiential events, further demonstrating the importance of automaker participation."
The show's impact at area dealerships was palpable, with dealers reporting noticeable increases in customers following the auto show.
"There's no doubt that we saw a big uptick in traffic and sales at our dealerships," said Kevin Keefe, proprietor of Brilliance Honda, in Crystal Lake; and Brilliance Subaru, in Elgin. "The activity at the stores was noticeably higher after the show opened."
Jason Roberts, general manager of Advantage Toyota of River Oaks, agreed. "We actually had more customers than sales representatives on Feb. 16," he said.
Special-themed days included established Women's Day, Hispanic Heritage Day, Family Day, and the three-day Food Drive, this year benefiting A Safe Haven. New this year: Sports Team Pride Day, when attendees donning a professional sports team's jersey gained reduced admission, and Chicago Friday Night Flights, at which a tasting pass afforded both access to the auto show and a sampling of 10 three-ounce pours of craft beers produced locally.
Best of Show
For the 14th consecutive year, consumer voters selected their favorites in five categories in Best of Show balloting. The Chicago Auto Show is the only major auto show that polls its attendees' favorite vehicles and exhibit. In voting over the show's 10 public days, the 2019 winners are:
  • Best all-new production: 2020 Jeep Gladiator
  • Best concept vehicle: Lexus LC Convertible
  • Best green vehicle: 2019 Audi e-tron
  • Best exhibit: Jeep
  • Vehicle I'd most like to have in my driveway: 2019 Bugatti Chiron
Each of the first four winners beat out seven competitors selected by a jury of automotive experts. In the "driveway" category, voters could choose from any of the hundreds of vehicles on the show floor. The winning Bugatti model has a suggested selling price of nearly $3.5 million.
"We think of our attendees as one enormous focus group that we can leverage to analyze data and assess trends," said Dave Sloan, the show's general manager. "Best of Show voting has become a benchmark measure of what the public deems the most exciting, impressive and innovative on the show floor."
Top salespeople
Effective salespeople who helped staff displays on the show floor netted thousands of dollars under the how's Award for Customer Excellence program. Incognito judges each day evaluated the salespeople using various criteria. The prize, $150 or $200 cash, could be won by one salesperson a day at each eligible exhibit. Len Donnells, from Joe Rizza Acura in Orland Park, won the award a record eight times during the show's 10-day run.
Prior to the show's public opening, the benevolent First Look for Charity black-tie gala raised $3 million for 18 area nonprofits. It marked the second time in the event's 28 years to hit that mark, following the 2017 edition.
Planning for the 112th Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 8-17, 2020, already is underway.
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