First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show (CAS) is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 116th edition of the Chicago Auto Show (CAS). This writer has experienced the Chicago Auto Show over the years at many stages of its development. I confidently write the Chicago Auto Show’s 2023 interaction clearly shows signs it is morphing into the Auto Show of the future. Innovation was on display in many ways from CAS as hi-tech event production, to the various multimedia + technology-driven exhibitions of most of the world’s leading automotive brands. EVs (Electric Vehicles) were most definitely the show’s stars.

In the words of the CAS marketing team, the 115th edition of the Chicago Auto Show which concluded on Monday, Feb. 20 after a successful 10-day run at McCormick Place saw a dramatic increase in overall attendance compared to the previous year. The only major auto show to not miss a beat as a result of the pandemic, the Chicago Auto Show grew back to its traditional two-hall footprint in 2023 and welcomed more than 300,000 total attendees—100,000 more than the previous year. 

“The buzz on the show floor this year was palpable,” said 2023 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Kevin Keefe. “You could just feel the energy and excitement from everyone that the Chicago Auto Show is not only back, but back in a big way.”

Notable new vehicles at the show included the BMW XM, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, Chevrolet Equinox EV, Chevrolet Trax, Dodge Hornet, Ford Mustang Dark Horse, Honda Accord, Honda Civic Type R, Honda CR-V, Honda Pilot, Hyundai IONIQ 6, Lamborghini Countach, Lexus RX, Maserati MC20, and Toyota Prius. 

The show saw support from new and returning sponsors. 2023 premier partners included Autel, Cars.com, and Powering Chicago. Official sponsors included ComEd, NASCAR, and Wintrust. 

CATA President + CAS GM Jennifer Morand, at CAS 2023 Opening Ribbon Cutting

“What’s really important is that research proves in-vehicle experiences increase the likelihood of the participant turning into a customer, which is why the nearly 150,550 rides over the course of just 10 days is even more incredible!” said Morand. “During the show, I heard from a local Chevrolet dealer in the Southwest suburbs who said he had two of the best sales weekends in a long time—a direct impact from the Chicago Auto Show.” 

Whether it’s having fun with an off-road experience, learning about the capabilities of a pickup truck, or taking an EV for a test drive for the first time, the show’s seven indoor test tracks and four outdoor test drive experiences offered more opportunities than ever before for consumers to shop, learn and play. Across the 11 ride-and-drive opportunities, the show produced nearly 150,550 in-vehicle driving experiences.  

Apparently, those in + outdoor test tracks are productivity of CAS for both brands + the show, “In speaking with the manufacturers that participated in an indoor test track and/or outdoor test drive, they noted that the total number of rides during our show far exceeded brand expectations,” said Jennifer Morand, Chicago Auto Show co-general manager.  

Dodge Daytona Charger Concept

In addition, concept cars were prominently on display and included the Buick Wildcat, Chrysler Airflow, Dodge Charger Daytona SRT, and Ram Revolution. The Wildcat + The Dodge Daytona Charger were show-stopping winners. Unfortunately, as concepts, neither might not ever see the light of a dealer’s showroom.

Hyundai put its best foot forward this year. 

  • Ms. Olabisi Boyle, VP of Product Planning + Mobility, Hyundai, provided some very provocative insights into the modern automobile design process, in the age of the connected car + EV (electric vehicle), as the featured interview, at the joint MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association) + CATA (Chicago Automobile Trade Association) producers of the Chicago Auto Show.
  • The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) presented the 2023 Driving Influence Award to QYOU Media, in partnership with Culture Brands, for Hyundai’s ‘Okay, Hyundai’ campaign during the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview. The annual award is given to a manufacturer that harnesses the power of influencer marketing to engage automotive customers.

Later at the Hyundai exhibit, Ms. Tia Battle, who might be the first Africana General Manager of a USA region, in this case, Hyundai’s 12-state Midwest region, for a global automotive brand, presented the updated Hyundai IONIQ EV.

The highlight for me was learning about the very impressive new subscription service.

  • Hyundai Motor America in partnership with Hyundai Capital America today announced its new Evolve+ electric vehicle subscription service at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show. This new service provides flexibility and affordability to the consumer who wants to drive Hyundai’s newest electric vehicles without committing to a purchase or longer-term lease. Evolve+ is a month-to-month subscription service that covers 1,000 miles, insurance, maintenance, registration, and roadside assistance at a starting price of $699 per month for a Kona Electric and $899 per month for an IONIQ.

CATA in partnership with A Girls Guide to Cars and Women in Automotive, held the sixth What Drives Her program during the show’s Media Preview on Friday, Feb. 10. Industry leaders from across the country came together for a robust discussion and award recognition ceremony to highlight women in four different categories: Rising Star, Best in Craft Media, Automotive Ally, and Best Retailer.

CAS 2023 Family Day 1

CAS kept up its tradition of fun + activities for the whole family, as well as its relentless community service initiatives including:

  • Interactive driving + other engaging activities in the exhibits of several brands, like Volkswagen’s high-powered exhibit.
  • CATA partnered with the Daily Herald to present Family Day, on its final day Monday, Feb. 20. A host of activities are planned throughout the day, from musical performances to kid-friendly events.
  • CATA continues to show its care and support to the community by sponsoring Versiti Blood Center of Illinois and A Safe Haven food drive at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show. 
  • Chicago Friday Night Flights — a one-of-a-kind indoor craft beer sampling event — returns for another round at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show on Friday, Feb. 17 from 6-9 p.m. Produced in partnership with the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, Choose Chicago and Toque and Bottle Advisory, Chicago Friday Night Flights provides attendees with 3-oz. samples of popular local brews along with full access to the nation’s largest auto show.
  • Chicago Friday Night Flights — a one-of-a-kind indoor craft beer sampling event — returned for another round at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show on Friday, Feb. 17 from 6-9 p.m. Produced in partnership with the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, Choose Chicago and Toque and Bottle Advisory, Chicago Friday Night Flights provides attendees with 3-oz. samples of popular local brews along with full access to the nation’s largest auto show.
  • For the first time ever at the Chicago Auto Show, Illinois residents will be able to obtain a REAL ID at the Secretary of State’s booth, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced. Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL) renewals will also be offered.

CHICAGO AUTO SHOW’S FIRST LOOK FOR CHARITY GALA RAISES MORE THAN $2.5 MILLION to benefit 18 local charities, and two attendees left with the keys to a new vehicle.

Held the evening before the auto show opens its 10-day public run, the black-tie benefit raised $2,520,465, bringing the 31-year total funds raised to $60 million. 

“First Look for Charity is one of Chicago’s finest one-day fundraisers and we are thrilled to have such a great turnout this year to support the charities,” said Kevin Keefe, 2023 Chicago Auto Show chairman. “On behalf of the Chicagoland new-car dealers, we couldn’t be prouder to host this benevolent event that directly impacts our communities.”

As the name of the event implies, those who attend First Look for Charity are part of the premier viewing of each year’s Chicago Auto Show. Tickets to the fundraiser are $275 each, and purchasers can elect to have their proceeds equally benefit all participating charities, or any one charity of their choosing. For the event, the auto show floor is replete with live entertainment and a variety of gourmet food and beverage stations.

A highlight of the evening was the drawing for the event’s grand prize vehicles: a 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid and a 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, compliments of the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda dealers and Chicagoland Subaru dealers.

CAS 2023 First Look For Charity Gala In Full Party Mode

The first winner, Patty R., Chicago resident, and Misericordia supporter, said “First Look for Charity is one of my favorite events! I have been eyeing the CR-V for a few years. [I am] happy to see it is a hybrid and now it’s mine!”

Winning the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek was Eddie H. of Chicago. “Thank you to Subaru for donating to such a wonderful charitable event. My family and I are thrilled to be the lucky winners.”

The 2023 First Look for Charity beneficiaries includes 100 Club of Illinois; Advocate Health Care; the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter; Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet; Franciscan Community Benefit Services; Glenwood Academy; Habitat for Humanity; the Jesse White Tumbling Team; Lydia Home & Safe Families for Children; and Misericordia; New Star; Special Olympics Illinois; Susan G. Komen, Chicago; and Turning Pointe Autism Foundation.

For more information, please visit FirstLookforCharity.org. For more about the CATA’s Chicagoland Dealers Care program, visit ChicagolandDealersCare.com.

About the Chicago Auto Show

First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the nation’s longest-running auto exposition in North America. The show is produced by Chicagoland’s new-car dealer association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, which has staged the show since 1935. The 20223 public show is Feb. 11-20 at McCormick Place. For more information and the latest updates, visit ChicagoAutoShow.com or Facebook.com/ChicagoAutoShow.com.

About the Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Founded in 1904 and located in Oakbrook Terrace, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association is composed of more than 400 franchised new-car dealers and an additional 150 allied members. The group’s dealer members employ about 19,000 people in the metropolitan area. The association has produced the world-famous Chicago Auto Show since 1935. For more information, please visit www.CATA.info.