Well it is Auto Show time, once again, here in Chicago at McCormick Place. Boy, what a difference a year makes
This time last year:
- Chicago had just recovered from a 16" snow storm.
- Toyota had replaced either electronic throttle controls, ABS controls, accelerator pedal assemblies and floor mats/ fasteners in more than 7 million cars in the U.S. and Canada from January 2010 through the end of 2011, pursuant to several safety recalls. The Goliath of automakers seemed to have met it's David.
- Sergio Marchionne, the new boss of FIAT-Chrysler was a keynote speaker at a media luncheon, and touting the FIAT 500 city car, the first FIAT sold here since 1984.
- The buzz was all about the yet-to-be launched Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in electric - of which several were available to be driven inside a McCormick place track
- Car sales in the U.S. were still in the relative dumps, down some 40% off the 2006 highs.
- There is barely a trace of snow on the ground in Chicago.
- The NHTSA, after a full and formal investigation, cleared Toyota electronic throttle controls of fault in sudden acceleration allegations. And the re-designed 2012 Toyota Camry is way outselling its competitors in the mid-size sedan market
- Chrysler, thanks to parent FIAT's cash infusion, is on a roll, having re-paid its U.S. Federal loans, with it's new Jeep Grand Cherokee an out of the park sales home run. However, the company's expectations for sales of the assembled in Mexico FIAT 500 were disappointing, (at 50% less than projections) despite J-Lo's return to her Bronx roots.
- The Chevy Volt was launched in limited markets. However, range anxiety, allegedly defective charging units lighting ablaze (later cleared by NHTSA), stable gas prices, and a relatively high price before tax credits kept buyers at bay. The good news was that brisk sales of the compact fuel champ Chevrolet Cruze permitted GM to pay back the US Treasury
- 2011 U.S. car sales shot up by a margin of 30% over the previous year
So what is good to see at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show? - which opens to the public on Friday February 10, 2012 and runs through Sunday February 19, 2012
- The Chrysler track, where you are hustled down a much abbreviated drag-strip, in Hemi-powered 300c's and Dodge Chargers (by Chrysler drivers).
- The Jeep wilderness off-road course, where you can climb on to be banked at near 20 degrees, and travel up and down an incline / decline pitched at over 30 degrees.
- Go along for mudding adventure on the Dodge Ram off-road course
- Zip around in Toyota's on their road course.
- Just outside McCormick Place the public can ride along green in the Kia Optima gas-eletric hybrid sedan and the Nissan Plug-in electric. Both of these models are already on sale for around the $30,000 mark.
Upcoming vehicles at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show that we predict will sell well:
- The new Ford Fusion (which will launch later this year as a 2013 model) - check out the sweet Aston Martin DB style front grille. This mid-size sedan is based on the European Ford Mondeo and will be assembled here in Chicago
- The 2013 Dodge Dart - a compact based off the well received Alfa Romeo Guiletta, starting at under $16,000 with one of the most fuel efficient engines on the market, the 1.4 liter Multi-Air turbo. This car will also be assembled here in Illinois at Chrysler's Belvidere plant.
- The 2013 BMW 3 series - nearly as big as the mid-size 5 series, still assembled in Germany, now with three levels of trims (but we'd avoid the Modern scheme which features something resembling tree bark as trim) and a 240 hp turbocharged 4 cylinder that makes more power than the outgoing 6 cylinder yet which improves fuel efficiency by 20%. All starting at under $36,000
The 2012 Chicago Auto Show runs at McCormick Place (at 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60616) from Friday February 10, 2012 through Saturday February 18, with hours of 10 am to 10 pm.
On the final day of Sunday February 19, 2012 the show is open from 10 am to 9 pm
For adults $11, for Seniors and Kids aged 7-12 $7
50% coupons are available at BP and $4 coupons off adult admission at Chicagoland car dealers.
Tickets may also be purchased online at
Parking at McCormick Place runs $19 per day, reduced to $10 after 5 pm. There is ample public transportation via CTA and shuttle buses available to the Millenium Park Parking Garage.
For further details follow this link to the excellent 2012 Chicago Auto Show website.