In the Driver Seat at the Chicago Auto Show

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  • February 14, 2017

If you were looking for a new car, where might your first stop be? A dealership? Online? How about the 2017 Chicago Auto Show?! I’m in car shopping mode so am genuinely interested in what I am going to learn at the show.

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Women in Automotive Luncheon in preparation for the Chicago Auto Show. Both events occurred at McCormick Place making it not only a day of education but a walk through a maze of vehicles that offered everything from power to design to technology to luxury to family focused features.

The panel was moderated by Bridget Brennan, the Founder and CEO of Female Factor. Sharing information and expertise were:

  • Kathy Gilbert, CDK Global Director of Sales and Business Development
  • Candice Crane, Hireology, Vice President of Dealer Solutions
  • Jody Hal, Vice President Steel Market Development Institute – automotive market.

The luncheon, lead by She Buys Cars, Scotty Reiss, was a fascinating look at the impact that women have on the automotive industry. This is not only referencing the purchase decisions but dealer ownership. A few key points I learned during the panel discussion:

  • The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in the country.
  • Women car owners are the biggest growth market in the world driving 80% of the buying power.
  • There are over 1000 women owned dealerships.
  • Half the show attendees are women.

Going to the show as Media gave me the opportunity to visit the Concept & Technology Garage which was only open during media week. Inside the convention center were 5 different concourses that allowed attendees to drive certain vehicles to get the feel of the handling and power of the models. It was an absolutely fascinating experience. The following brands are a sampling of those at the garage:




Two days later, I was back at McCormick Place with the She Buys Cars team to learn more about the trends and patterns within the different brands.

As we know, technology is everywhere now. Just like the post I wrote about how smart technology is in our kitchens and homes, it’s also in our cars. For example, Hyundai’s partnership with Amazon Alexa in the 2018 Elantra GT that integrates with Hyundai’s Blue Link allowing smartphone users the opportunity to start, lock and unlock the vehicle in an app as well as set the car’s temperature ahead of time. Drivers can even turn on the rear defroster and heated side mirrors before getting into the car. Plus, wireless smartphone charging is also available. Major perk in my book. 

And the push towards a greener world with hybrids like the Hyundai Ioniq that gets 58 mpg.

From a design aesthetic, we are seeing the depth of color showing up in both the interior and exterior of vehicles:


Interesting to note that marketing executives coming from world class organizations like Disney are implementing their expertise within the automotive world at Nissan as can be seen in the brand success of the Rogue. Number 1 Crossover in the U.S.

And an Audi designer is now at Kia which can be seen in the sleekness of the Stinger:

Where minivans are updated with the latest conveniences like an installed vacuum cleaner and center row sliding rail at Honda.

And winning awards by the Midwest Automotive Media Association naming the Chrysler Pacifica “2017 Family Vehicle of the Year”:

New branding for FCA Group which includes Chrysler, Jeep, MOPAR, Dodge, FIAT, RAM, Alfa Romeo and Maserati to name a few.

Cadillac emphasizes performance as much as luxury.

Or the increasing demand for mobile tiny homes over RVs.

Finally, we spent time learning about the Hyundai Genesis series as it continues to expand in the luxury car space. The G80 Sport series will become available for the 2018 model year this spring. The G90 luxury line is exactly as it sounds. Amenities galore like reclining seats in the back, heated and ventilated seats, personal temperature controls and so many other benefits.

The 2017 Chicago Auto Show was a fascinating way to understand that not only do brands listen to consumers but they are implementing the latest technology and eco friendly capabilities in vehicles to meet and exceed our expectations. The auto show continues through February 20, 2017 and is $13 for adults. Whether you are looking for a new vehicle or interested in the auto industry, this is a great way to see first hand what manufacturers are offering. Thank you to Women in Automotive and She Buys Cars for the opportunity to experience the show this year.








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