The McCormick Place in Chicago is lit up with hundreds of sparkling new vehicles from major manufacturers around the world. It is the 106th Chicago Auto Show, which has been opened to the public since Saturday, Feb. 8 and will go on until Monday, Feb. 17.
I had the opportunity to attend the preview for media last Thursday, and as always, found myself dazed with all the new reveals and features of the vehicles.
For the first time, I ventured out to take a couple of indoors test drives with a colleague from Xinhua News. Maybe a “test drive” is a bit of exaggeration since a designated driver from the manufacturers that set up each of the three indoors tracks was behind the wheel. To us, it was actually a relief to sit through the ride instead of manipulating the seemingly difficult drive on our own.
We first tried a Jeep Cherokee and I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of a steep climb that looked like over 40 degrees.
Jim Morrison, Director of Jeep Brand Product Marketing, told us afterward that this all-new Cherokee features a nine-speed transmission, parallel and perpendicular parking assist.
It will be available in the U.S. market in a couple of months and in China later this year, Morrison said.
We also tried the Toyota 4Runner SUV. I was amazed by the different conditions of climbing, two-foot deep water, sand, mud, rock that the limited indoor track was able to accommodate and how nice the ride was.
Many manufacturers, including Kia, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Chevrolet, Volvo, Volkswagen, and BMW held conferences to introduce their vehicles throughout the day. We stopped at many displays, but only attended the Nissan announcement.
When we were attracted to a new 2-door Mastung coupe, Steven Ling, North American Car Marketing Manager at Ford, told us the new features of the 2015 model.
“It’s an all-new platform and engineering,” he said.
He said the new model was showcased at the Shanghai Auto Show last December and will be introduced to China later this year.
“It will be the first Mastung ever introduced to China,” said Ling.
Ford also features a new F-150 pick-up truck at the show.
Doug Scott, Truck Marketing Manager, told us that this new model’s upper body is made of high-strength aluminum alloy instead of steal, reducing 700 pounds in weight for the vehicle.
Half a day was gone without our realizing it and we had only walked through half of the show. Go visit the show if you can. You will enjoy the experience.
Jian Ping: author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature length documentary film. It is directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film will be on PBS nationwide in May 2014. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.