Passenger cars in the lead at auto show

February 12, 2010 4:50:24 PM PST
Between the bad economy and rash of recalls, times are tough for the auto industry, but car execs hope they've turned the corner.

Like past years, organizers at the Chicago Auto Show are expecting crowds of people- many of whom are looking to buy a new car. There's a little bit of everything- from the practical to the extravagant. But, this year, safety is even more important following a series of recalls from Toyota.

"I like the Honda Odyssey. I have a 2004 Sienna that has had recalls upon recalls upon recall because it was first off the lot. It has been a very lemon of a car. I can't wait to get rid of it, but my husband is insistent we get a Toyota this next time," said Kathy Bucciferro, Toyota owner.

The Toyota recall, which was to fix an accelerator, overshadowed the designs of the 2011 models. The carmaker is trying to slow consumer defection.

"Since last week, we have already fixed 320,000 across America, and all our dealers are working around the clock, including our dealers in the Chicagoland area," said Kurt McCallister, Toyota Midwest Public Relations

The competition is also eyeing Toyota's problems and trying to capitalize on the safety concerns.

"Ford is coming out on top. Everybody will see that. We got a great product, number one in safety right now. We have the North American car of the year in the Fusion. We're really proud," said John Potter, Ford salesperson

Another car getting a lot of attention at the 102nd edition of the Chicago Auto Show is made by Fisker. It's an electric vehicle that might just upstage some traditional luxury cars.

"I think that the world is going in that direction. We all want to put our part in to conserve energy," said Magdalena Figueroa, Fisker Motors.

For the average car buyer, the show is about the comeback of the passenger car- fuel efficient, packed with features and affordable.

"The designs have changed quite a bit. They are certainly more competitive now. I am truly impressed," said Roosevelt Stout, attending auto show.

The interest in passenger cars over SUVs is fueled by the price of gasoline, according to car experts.