Lots to see and test at the Chicago auto show as dealers struggle with lean inventory
Thursday will mark the start of a Chicago Auto Show like no other. Organizers will offer the traditional glitzy indoor display of new models as well as an outdoor Street Fest with test tracks, off-road rides and entertainment.
The event, which typically takes place in February, has been postponed due to COVID-19, but the abridged special edition which runs through Monday at McCormick Place “will resonate,” said the co-chair of the salon. ‘self Kevin Keefe.
“We are the premier economy show at McCormick Place”, and in February 2020 “we were the last, which is a little wild”.
The timing is working, Keefe added, as the pandemic has also put a spoke in auto sales as a shortage of semiconductor chips derailed manufacturing, temporarily turning some dealers into ghost car towns.
“Inventory on dealer lots is very meager. It’s in the 10s and 20s new cars on dealer lots, and normally it’s 200, 300, 400,” said Keefe, owner of Brilliance Honda. in Crystal Lake and Brilliance Subaru in Elgin.
The auto show allows potential buyers to see and try out a range of vehicles in one place, he said.
The disconnect began at the start of the pandemic when automakers cut back orders from suppliers, Consumer Guide automotive publisher Tom Appel explained. “They correctly assumed that sales would go down.”
But vehicle sales haven’t fallen as much as manufacturers estimated, Appel noted. Meanwhile, homebound consumers began purchasing laptops, speakers, and other products that were filling the void in the chip market.
“And when the automakers came back to order more microchips, they weren’t there. Another big problem is that it takes forever to scale up production of microchips,” said Appel, a resident of the Palatine. .
The supply delay was compounded by pent-up demand for new vehicles, Keefe said. “It’s a little stressful for the consumer and on our side. Nobody is used to this,” he said.
He expects the shortage to equalize by late summer to early fall.
In the meantime, that’s one more reason to launch tires at the show, inside the west building of McCormick Place and outside along Indiana Avenue, organizers said.
“Because it’s summer, the concept of Street Fest has really evolved,” Keefe said.
The streets of the neighborhood “are closed for road tests during the day and blocked off at night when food trucks, bands and local beers come in.”
Appel is “very happy to see the 2022 Ford Maverick up close.” The new pickup is “a real compact truck … and it starts at under $ 20,000”. In addition, “it has a relatively small footprint”, for truck enthusiasts with limited parking space.
Its other essentials?
“There is an upcoming Jeep Compass that is significantly updated for 2022,” Appel said. “It’s a compact crossover, which remains the largest segment in the United States if you exclude the pickups.”
Sports car enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Toyota GR 86, “a small rear-wheel drive vehicle that is built in collaboration with Subaru. It has a bigger engine, a new look.”
Nissan’s 2022 Pathfinder is interesting for the three-row crowd.
“Nissan had let its Pathfinder age a bit, so that’s great news,” Appel said. The mid-size crossover “has a whole new look, it’s a bit more spacious and has some safety features.”
Another highlight is Ford’s latest full-size Bronco, which is expected to generate some rivalry with Jeep’s Wrangler 4xe, a plug-in electric hybrid.
Family activities include the Subaru Loves Pets Adoption Program from 9:05 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
For info, go to chicagoautoshow.com or call (630) 495-2282.