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Chicago Auto Show brings 'em out ahead of spring selling season

November 15, 2010

Even during an economy that isn’t generating a lot of love, Chicagoans love their auto show. Steady crowds took their laps around the nation’s largest auto show Feb. 13-22 to see the industry’s latest offerings.


Exhibitors who travel the auto show circuit remarked about the largest flocks they witnessed all season. Indeed, aided by a rare inclusion of the Presidents Day holiday, attendance last month was on par with 2008 numbers until getting hobbled by a snowstorm on the show’s second Saturday.


The CATA, which owns and produces the Chicago Auto Show, helped automakers tamp down their expenses at a critical time, such as by erecting a free stage during the show’s Media Preview that the manufacturers could share for news conferences. One auto company representative said setting up a stage can cost $250,000.


Hyundai relied on the stage for the world introduction of its Genesis Spec R coupe. Other world intros at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show included the Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickup and a high-performance Ford Taurus SHO.


‘Best of Show’ winners


Consumer voters identified their Chicago Auto Show favorites in five categories, in the show’s fourth annual Best of Show balloting. Winners were:


• Best All-New Production Vehicle: Ford Taurus SHO (27% of vote)

• Best Concept Vehicle: Chevrolet Corvette StingRay (39% of vote)

• Best "Green" Vehicle: Ford Fusion Hybrid (31% of vote)

• Best Exhibit: Ford (30% of vote)

• Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway: Chevrolet Corvette StingRay (12% of write-in vote, with consumers allowed to choose from any vehicle on the show floor)


$28,750 disbursed in ACE awards


Effective salespeople in the displays netted a combined $28,750 under the Award for Customer Excellence program.


Salespeople from area dealerships who worked in the manufacturer displays were evaluated each day by incognito judges who rated the salespeople using various criteria to award prizes of $150 on weekdays and $200 on weekends. Several people won the award twice during the 10-day show. Andrew Najarian of Land Rover Winnetka captured the prize four times, and Emanuel Tallackson of South Holland Mitsubishi was a three-time winner.


First Look for Charity shines


Even in a down economy, the auto show’s benevolent black-tie event helped raise more than $1.8 million for 18 area nonprofits, and two attendees won new vehicles. 

More than 7,000 supporters attended First Look for Charity. John Almy, 23, of Long Grove took home a 2009 Kia Borrego; and 27-year-old Bosun Kimof Des Plaines likely will be the first on her block with a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.