CHICAGO - The future of the automobile was a hot topic at the Chicago Auto Show. The show opens to the public on Saturday but Thursday was Media Day.
The Chicago Auto Show is the nation's largest--manufacturers note that by reserving some of their product debuts for the show.
The Hyundai Elantra GT was unveiled the way car makers like to do it -- with video, shiny covers and models -- a car that goes after a highly competitive market segment compact SUVs.
"Based on the new generation i30 recently designed for an launched in the European market, but our big news here is that there are two versions," Scott Margason, director of product planning for Hyundai, said.
That concept of utility had Dodge showing off what it said is the fastest three row SUV around--the Durango SRT.
"We've taken this vehicle to the race track to not only make sure that it delivers on performance but also looks the part of an SRT," Ted Seymour, Dodge SRT brand manager, said.
But beyond all the shiny new metal there were important discussions about the future of the automobile. At a lunchtime on premises session of the economic Club of Chicago, the president of General Motors described how his future business will involve driverless cars
"Firstly to strengthen and grow our core business of building and selling great cars, truck and crossovers, secondly, to define and lead the future of personal mobility through the creation of an entirely new transportation business model," Dan Ammann, president of General Motors, said.
And as he discussed what that means for car ownership, he showcased a Chevy Bolt EV navigating the real streets of San Francisco last week.
"The business is changing and we want to lead this change," he said.
Analysts agree the technology is out of the lab and now it's about public attitudes and political will. Autonomous -- and eventually driverless cars -- has huge implications for a $570 billion industry that's expected to welcome one million visitors over the next two weeks to see its wares in Chicago.
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