Chicago Auto Show opens Friday

February 12, 2009 1:27:58 PM PST
The Chicago Auto Show is always one of the city's biggest annual events. This year, the auto industry is adapting its approach to bring in consumers during tough economic times. The show opens this Friday. You may not see as many bells and whistles at this year's auto show -- what you will see is the industry stepping up to the challenge of convincing consumers to buy.

"The automotive industry is the single most important industry in the US economy by many measures, contribution to GNP, people employed, all of those things, yet our reputation as an industry isn't that good. It's a shame, and a lot of it is our own doing as automakers," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO.

Hyundai is one of the few automakers to show a year to year increase in sales while other manufacturers are struggling to stay afloat. They attribute this to the affordable Genesis being named North American car of the year and a new program that addresses concerns about job losses.

¶"So we put together this program assurance, which says, look, if you do buy that car and have it financed and later lose your job, if you want to, you can return it to your Hyundai dealer and we'll just take it back and you don't have to worry about any bad marks on your credit," Krafcik said.

Domestic carmakers say a great product using the new technology and fuel efficiency will bring consumers back.

"The fusion hybrid that we're launching now gets 41 mpg, one of the most fuel-efficient midsized sedans in America," said Chantel Lenard, Ford marketing manager.

There is some new technology from Ford that parents are going to love. It's called "My Key" and it lets you program settings in the car to keep young drivers safe. The transponder in the key lets you limit the speed, the radio volume and the stability control.

,"Essentially what that is, your kid can't do donuts in the parking lot," said Megan MacRae, Ford spokesperson.

"My Key" will be available this spring as a standard option in many Ford 2010 model vehicles. The Chicago Auto Show opens Friday morning at McCormick Place.

The show runs from February 13 through February 22.

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