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2023 Chicago Auto Show An Electrifying Experience

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2023 Chicago Auto Show An Electric Experience

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

The 2023 Chicago Auto Show welcomed national automotive media with pleasantly warm outside temperatures for a couple of mid-winter February days. First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 115th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.

Many global auto shows were canceled during the recent pandemic. Chicago was fortunate to hold the 2020 show just before quarantine restrictions came about. The 2021 show was a scaled-down, mid-summer affair and 2022 put the show back in its February time slot with reduced auto maker participation.

For 2023 the Chicago Auto Show has reopened the north exhibit hall of McCormick Place, expanding once again to a two-hall show and reenlisting brands that missed during the pandemic. The 2023 show is expected to be the most experiential Chicago Auto Show yet, offering outdoor ride-and-drives as well as a several brand-new indoor test tracks including a 100,000 sq.-ft. destination featuring EV test drives, called Chicago Drives Electric.

Twenty auto brands are exhibiting at the show. Fifty-five vehicle are available for consumer test drives.

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Everyone loves a concept car and a glimpse at the future. On display at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show are the Buick Wildcat, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Chrysler Airflow, Dodge Charger Daytona SRT EV concept, and Ram 1500 Revolution EV concept.

New vehicle news-makers range from the world premier of the 2023 Toyota Grand Highlander, the 2024 refreshed Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, the new Ram 1500 Revolution battery electric concept vehicle for the first time at an auto show, the all-new 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, and the 20th anniversary Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

There’s plenty to see and experience for the EV-curious. EV sales rose in 2022 and are forecasted to continue to rise each year as more new and lower-priced vehicles come to market. Illinois has the goal of having one million EVs on the road by 2030.

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ComEd is presenting the Chicago Drives Electric 100,000 sq.ft. indoor EV test track. To help customers make informed decisions as they navigate the emergent EV industry, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Nissan and Volkswagen have vehicles available for ride-alongs.

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Ford, Hyundai, Jeep and Toyota also have their own EV ride-along experiences within their exhibits.

If you buy an EV it is all-important to be able to charge the battery at home. Powering Chicago has an all-new EV Learning Center. Powering Chicago, a partnership between International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 and the Electrical Contractors' Association of Chicago and Cook County, hosts a learning center with consumer workshops and stations where attendees can meet with experts.

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New for 2023, Autel is the official charging company of Chicago Drives Electric. Autel provides charging solutions for both residential, commercial, and fleet businesses. They provide the chargers for all the EVs running on the indoor test track along with an interactive exhibit where consumers can learn more about charging technology.

Both Powering Chicago and Autel, as well as ComEd, are at the show to provide the answers for those considering to go all-electric with their family vehicle.

For the adventurous, Toyota, Jeep and Ram also have show-goer ride-alongs.

And for the performance enthusiast, NASCAR also has an exhibit at the show for its first-ever street race. The 2023 Chicago Street Race will take place on July 2 and 3, turning Grant Park and the area around Buckingham Fountain into a race course.

Auto shows continue to morph. From an entertainment and look and see experience, they now also provide a very practical and useful driving or ride experience to help consumers in their new vehicle buying process.

Personal mobility is in transition as many become less car dependent.

The future is electric. Happy Motoring!

© 2023 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy