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Solid crowds, enthusiasm are tenets of '14 Chicago Auto Show

February 28, 2014
Strong attendance and attendee interaction underscore that major auto shows, like Chicago’s, remain resilient to the changing times. While hundreds of third-party automotive, manufacturer and enthusiast websites feature vehicle specifications, options, prices, videos and road test reviews, consumers still take advantage of venues like the Chicago Auto Show when they are in the market for a new vehicle.
Consumers battled cold and snow to reach McCormick Place Feb. 8-17 for the Chicago Auto Show’s 106th edition. Automakers seized the chance to build brand awareness, and consumers used the opportunity to take rides on three indoor test tracks and six outdoor test drives — certainly things the Web can’t offer.
Attendees were treated to 18 world and North American vehicle introductions, and lots of fudge.
Social media
 The Chicago Auto Show used social media as an informational and engagement tool with solid success. The show was the No. 1 trend on Facebook from the show’s Media Preview through opening day (Feb. 6-8), trending over the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.
This year’s show launched Instagram, Instagram Video and Vine this year and saw followers grow substantially throughout the show. The Facebook fan base grew by 81 percent; the Twitter fan base, 76 percent. Overall, the Chicago Auto Show garnered 21.5 million impressions. The show’s official hashtag, #FuelCAS, proved popular on all social media channels, with nearly 89 million impressions.
Best of Show
For the ninth year, consumers proclaimed their favorites in five categories in the show’s Best of Show balloting. In voting conducted over the show’s 10-day public run, winners were:
• Best all-new production vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang
• Best concept vehicle: Cadillac Elmiraj
• Best green vehicle: Cadillac ELR
• Best exhibit: Chevrolet
• Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway: Bugatti Veyron
First Look for Charity
Eighteen area charities shared in more than $2.3 million raised by First Look for Charity, the Chicago Auto Show’s benevolent event, and two attendees won a new Toyota. 
Ed Burke of Naperville, who supports Misericordia, won a Corolla and promptly donated the car to the nonprofit. Chicagoan Mario Pacheco was eager to get the keys to his new Highlander. Both vehicles were provided by Toyota and your Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Toyota dealers.
"First Look for Charity is a great instrument for the area’s new-car dealers to show the positive impact that have on their community," said Kurt Schiele, proprietor of Elmhurst Toyota and chairman of this year’s auto show. "All the benefiting charities are involved locally, so the money that’s raised in Chicago stays in Chicago."
ACE program
In displays staffed with salespeople from area dealerships, the most effective salespeople won nearly $18,000 under the show’s Award for Customer Excellence program. Incognito judges each day evaluated the salespeople using various criteria. The prize, $150 weekdays and $200 on Saturday and Sunday, can be won by one salesperson a day at each exhibit. 
Continental Honda’s Nick Hanna won seven times over the 10-day show. José Martinez of Continental Mitsubishi and Jim Monti of Grossinger City Autoplex both won the award three times. Two-time winners included Adam Broadhus (Mercedes-Benz of Naperville), Rudy Escareño (Castle Buick-GMC), Walt Green (Advantage Chevrolet), Redd Walker (Van Drunen Ford), and Ted Wenecki (Fox Valley Buick-GMC).