So, we’re back from the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. My flight got canceled and rescheduled due to weather, so I ended up missing the first two press conferences, Ford and Toyota. Whosever bright idea it was to hold one of the biggest auto shows in the world in the middle of Chicago’s winter needs to be shot. Regardless, we got some great information and images of the newest cars, unveilings, and concepts coming out of the industry this year.
First, I’d like to thank Bridgestone for being such a great host, providing travel, accommodations, grub, and a gift.
The first press conference of the day was Ford, who unveiled the 2011 Ford Edge, along with the Ford Transit Connect Electric and Connect Taxi, which will go into production later this year, allowing “commercial and government fleet operators to go gas-free.” The Transit Connect will be fully electric, and the Connect Taxi will offer a package allowing conversion to clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG.)
While not particularly exciting, it’s great news for everyone; having thousands of businesses in the US convert to electric, LPG, or CNG propulsion for the millions of miles they drive is huge news, and will open up doors to an infrastructure for consumer electric cars.
More big news from Ford is the MyFord Touch, a high-tech in-car connectivity option that integrates with SYNC and allows for lots of customization. I’ll give more details in another article because this technology looks as game-changing as SYNC was when it was first released. Ford’s display also shows off many new models including the new-engined 2011 Mustang and GT500, Fiesta, Fusion, and the redesigned 2011 Focus.
Toyota‘s conference was next, who along with apologizing for the catastrophic sticky pedal issues, unveiled the 2011 Toyota Avalon. Basically a higher-end evolution of the luxury sedan, the 2011 Avalon will go on sale beginning Spring 2010. Also on display is the upcoming Prius Plug-In Hybrid and FT-CH hybrid sports car concept.
Honda‘s conference announced the upcoming next generation Odyssey, which tries to take the boring minivan image out of the picture. Honda said they want to capture what they call the “hesitators” – folks who like the functionality of a minivan but don’t buy because of the vanilla, soccer-mom image that goes along with them. On display is the 2011 Honda Odyssey Concept; a slightly “extreme” version of how the production model will look:
The 2011 Odyssey will feature a V6 engine with variable cylinder management, achieving an estimated 19 city / 28 hwy mpg. Also on display at Honda is the CR-Z Hybrid:
Off in another section sit some modified Camaros and Corvettes, the most impressive of which was a highly-modified widebody Specter Werkes Corvette GTR.
Bridgestone was next, showing off a new line of fuel-efficient tires. The Ecopia EP422 line is a series of all-season, low rolling resistance tires built with recycled rubber. Bridgestone says the tires show a 36% improvement in rolling resistance compared to a typical tire, which converts to a 4% increase in fuel economy.
Kia was without question the best press conference of the day, being the only brand out of the bunch to remember what a high-energy, exciting, and fun press show is about. Starting out with a live band (The Rays) and beer, Kia brought out two of their Super Bowl mascots, then unveiled the cool new Kia Ray Hybrid Concept. This is how press conferences used to be when people were still buying cars. More info and pictures of the Kia Ray hybrid Concept.
And that was it for the press conferences of the day. Although none of the other manufacturers had any unveilings, many still had big displays with vehicles of interest…
Hyundai‘s superstar is the all-new 2011 Sonata, which turns out is quite an upgrade from its current-generation bland-mobile. Read more on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. They’re also showing off the new Equus luxury sedan and funky-shaped 2010 Tucson SUV, along with the wavy-lined Blue-Will plugin hybrid.
Fisker was at the show, showing off the Karma supercar:
Cadillac‘s CTS-V Coupe:
Fiat even showed up with the soon-to-come 500:
The Chicago Auto Show is currently open, running until February 21, 2010. If you have a chance, make sure to head out there and take a look around.