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Chicago Auto Show roars back to McCormick Place
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Chicago Auto Show roars back to McCormick Place

CHICAGO — After a hiatus of nearly a year and a half, the Chicago Auto Show roars back to McCormick Place on Thursday.

Normally held in February, the annual display of automakers' latest and greatest vehicles returns from Thursday to Monday. But the scaled-back auto show will look a lot different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation's largest consumer auto show, which dates back to 1901 and long has been produced by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, was moved from its traditional home in the South Building at McCormick Place to the West Building.

It will occupy half a million square feet instead of the traditional million square feet. Instead of 10 days, it will run for just five. The iconic Chicago Auto Show globe looming in the grand concourse between the exhibition halls is gone, replaced by a large banner.

And far fewer than the usual 1,000 vehicles will be on display, given the reduced floor space.

This year, only Toyota, Honda, Ford, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ram, Dodge, Jeep, Nissan, Lexus, Kia, Subaru, Lincoln, BMW, Volkswagen and Chevrolet will display vehicles. They had only 10 days to set up displays instead of the usual month, and forklifts still were scurrying about Wednesday to get everything ready for the public.

People can still go on test drives outside the lakefront convention center, but Camp Jeep and the Ram Truck Territory are the only indoor test tracks this year. Ford has two outdoor test tracks, including one for the electric Mustang Mach-E and the Built Wild off-road curse for the new Bronco in which people can drive up a 38-degree-high "Bronco Mountain."

"The Chicago Auto Show is a once-a-year opportunity to connect with car buyers and enthusiasts, helping them experience the innovation and human-centered design that defines Ford," said Dawn Valeski, Chicago regional manager for Ford. "And this year, we're kicking it up a notch by debuting two new outdoor experiences — Built Wild and Built to Electrify — that will educate and captivate visitors with the all-new vehicles and technology they've come to expect from the Chicago Auto Show."

Despite the semiconductor shortages that have disrupted auto production, people can still get a first look at new vehicles, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, the 2022 Ram 1500 Laramie G/T and the Volkswagen Golf 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R.

“The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante,” said Hein Schafer, senior vice president for product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America. “Now built in Wolfsburg, the cars have more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”

Visitors also can check out an array of aftermarket car parts, accessories, rare supercars and "lost Corvettes."

The Chicago Auto Show will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at McCormick Place at 2301 S. King Drive in Chicago.

Tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for seniors 62 and older and children 12 and younger. Tickets must be purchased online in advance; there will be no ticket booths at McCormick Place this year because of the pandemic.

For more information, visit www.chicagoautoshow.com or call 630-495-2282.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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