The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), the area’s new-car dealer association and producer of the Chicago Auto Show, successfully concluded its second annual fall Chicago Drives Electric experiential test drive and educational event. MAMA partnered with the CATA for the Media Day before the event opened to the public.
In alignment with National Drive Electric week, Chicago Drives Electric aimed to raise awareness of the many benefits of all-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles and help consumers understand how electric vehicles (EVs) can fit individual needs and lifestyles. Featured brands available for test drives included: Alfa Romeo, Audi, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Over 50 MAMA members joined local broadcasters for a day of driving and EV education. The day kicked off with a panel discussion on the current state of EVs led by MAMA President, Robert Duffer. The panel included Brian Normile from Cars.com. David Thomas from CDK Global, Ryan Burg from ComEd, and Elbert Walters from Powering Chicago. The hourlong panel discussion addressed concerns around infrastructure, preparing for EV ownership, charger installation and more. After the panel, media members were able to head outside and spend time in the latest vehicles.
Members were able to spend 15-20 minutes of on-road driving, engage with manufacturer representatives and capture content. New vehicles like the Cadillac Lyriq, Nissan Ariya, Toyota Prius Prime and many more were all on the move. Kia also brought out the new EV9 for a static display. CDK Global sponsored lunch and provided the latest insights from their recent study and outside Weber Grill was grilling up hot dogs on electric grills plugged into an EV6 and Ford F-150 Lightning.
In addition to putting media behind the wheel, MAMA and CATA brought in a variety of experts to help break down the various aspects of EV ownership and tackle complex topics such as range anxiety; at-home charging solutions; on-the-go charging and infrastructure; tax credits and incentives; and where people can begin their search. On-hand experts included Cars.com, ComEd, Drive Chicago and Powering Chicago. Once again, Powering Chicago’s mobile field trip truck was onsite, a 73’ semi-truck and trailer outfitted with current and emerging electrical technology, including EV chargers, which provided a classroom for licensed electricians and contractors to offer knowledgeable insights.
The Media day concluded at 4:00, but Chicago Drives Electric carried on for the remainder of the weekend Friday through Sunday. Over the course of the weekend, the event attracted 1,437 total registered drivers and netted more than 5,800 in-vehicle experiences, doubling the attendance from the previous year. The buzz generated from the event carried over to social media; Chicago Drives Electric reached more than 4.6 million, according to initial results from media measurement firm Meltwater.
“We’re planning to bring back the large Chicago Drives Electric indoor test track and EV education hub to the 2024 Chicago Auto Show,” said Chicago Auto Show Co-General Manager Jennifer Morand. “Last year’s test track featured models from five different brands. We look forward to continuing that experience at the 2024 show.”