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Curtains set to rise on 111th edition of nation's largest auto show

January 25, 2019
An anticipated 20 vehicles are expected to be introduced at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 9-18 at McCormick Place. But there will be waaay more to see and do than that at this year’s edition.
Test tracks, both indoors and outdoors, are back in a big way. Land Rover is building a new test track to showcase its new Range Rover Evoque. Kia is upgrading its drive experience — professional drivers will take attendees in customized Tellurides over obstacles. The interactive Ram track is back after a year’s hiatus to highlight the brand’s capable new full-size pickup. And, of course, Camp Jeep, a star of the show for the past 15 years, returns. 
In addition, six brands will conduct outdoor test drives. All told, perhaps 100,000 attendees will participate in one of the show’s drive experiences this year.       
Four automakers, including Mercedes-Benz, will not exhibit this year as those brands test other marketing strategies. The CATA will work to secure their return in 2020. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz Vans will have a 12,000 square foot display, showing the strength of the business-to-business side of the Chicago Auto Show. 
"As always," said show General Manager Dave Sloan, "we have plans for numerous public show marketing events to extend our reach to new customers and enhance the ROI for our exhibitors. That’s the key to our show. What can we do to amplify the message of the automakers and shine a bigger and brighter spotlight on everything they bring to our show? And, in the end, do our collective efforts move the sales needle?"
Of course, lots of action takes place during the two days before the show opens to the public and the turnstiles start to spin. The Media Preview kicks off Feb. 7, with the Midwest Automotive Media Association breakfast. MAMA President Damon Bell will present the Family Vehicle of the Year award and introduce keynote speaker Michael Cole, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Kia Motors America.
"Kia Motors America is thrilled to kick off the 2019 Chicago Auto Show at the annual MAMA breakfast. This is an important show for Kia and a mainstay of the automotive calendar," Cole said. The automaker will offer rides in its new Telluride on the wild Kia Torque Track. 
Later that day, Jaguar Land Rover North America President and CEO Joachim Eberhardt will be the keynote speaker at the Economic Club of Chicago luncheon, which each February is held at the auto show. Eberhardt is responsible for the company’s North American operations including sales, service and marketing in the United States and Canada. 
"We look forward to a tremendous Chicago Auto Show this year as we debut the new Range Rover Evoque, an SUV built for consumers who live in great cities with often challenging weather conditions," Eberhardt said. 
In partnership with Women in Automotive and A Girls Guide to Cars, the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 8 will host the third annual "What Drives Her" panel discussion and industry networking event. Influential women will come together to highlight trends and share personal experiences surrounding the impact that females have on the automotive industry. 
This year, the event’s overarching theme will focus on the major shifts that are taking place in the automotive industry, including the ways females are shaping its evolution.  
Premier Partners of this year’s show include State Farm, Wintrust Financial, and Turtle Wax (new for 2019). In addition to premium exhibit space on the show floor, each partner will have various promotional activities throughout the run of the show.  Premier Partners enjoy category exclusivity and receive additional exposure to show attendees through Premier Partner benefits packages.
The final event before the curtain is raised to the public is First Look for Charity. Now in its 28th year, the 2019 event is projected to raise more than $2.5 million for 18 local charities. Since its inception, this benevolent fundraiser has generated more than $50 million for Chicago-area beneficiaries.