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  • 09 Feb 2024 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) has awarded the Chevrolet Trax as MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle of 2024. The overall winner was voted on by the association’s 189 nationwide media members and announced at the Chicago Auto Show welcome breakfast on Feb. 8, 2024.

    “The new Chevrolet Trax packages style, features, and value unlike any new car,” said Robert Duffer, MAMA President. “Priced at less than $25,000, it costs nearly half of what new car shoppers are paying on average. It outshined more than 100 qualifying vehicles, and MAMA members responded by awarding it MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle of 2024.”

    Revamped for 2024, MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle awards build on the strength of the association’s prior Family Vehicle of the Year and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year awards. It was expanded to highlight the eclectic number of vehicles available and of interest to the readers, viewers, and listeners of MAMA’s membership base. Before determining the overall winner, members voted for the seven category winners after each of the association’s three drive events in 2023: The MAMA Spring Rally held at Road America, MAMA’s Favorites Fall Fest, and Chicago Drives Electric.

    The category winners for 2024 are:

    • MAMA’s Favorite Family Vehicle: Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid MAX
    • MAMA’s Favorite Luxury Vehicle: Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD
    • MAMA’s Favorite Off-Roader: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe
    • MAMA’s Favorite Pickup Truck: Ford Maverick Tremor
    • MAMA’s Favorite Performance Vehicle: Ford Mustang Dark Horse
    • MAMA’s Favorite Affordable Vehicle: Chevrolet Trax
    • MAMA’s Favorite Plug-In Vehicle: Hyundai IONIQ 6

    Two trophies were presented to representatives from GM at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show welcome breakfast, with the Chevrolet Trax being awarded to both MAMA’s Favorite Affordable Vehicle and MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle of 2024. Additionally, throughout the 2024 Chicago Auto Show, MAMA board members met with representatives in attendance from the category winners above to present trophies on the show floor.

    Congratulations to all!

  • 06 Feb 2024 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If the Circus Can Do It, Can’t We? — A Conversation with Dave Sloan and Jen Morand

    As MAMA members and as people working in the auto industry, you should know long-time MAMA rock stars Dave Sloan and Jen Morand. We’re slipping this bonus Member Spotlight into Chicago Auto Show (CAS) week to celebrate and honor Dave’s last year running CAS, support Jen as she steps into the lead role of our hometown show, and show both of them how lucky we are to have them. Thanks, Dave and Jen, co-General Managers of the Chicago Auto Show, for taking time out of your jam-packed schedule for this interview, and for your dedication to putting together the best auto show in the country. 

    We appreciate you! 

    — the MAMA Board


    Dave, can you talk about some of your career highlights over your years with the auto show?


    Sure. I’ve been with the Chicago Auto Trade Association, I was Executive Vice President, in 1993, so I’ve been President of the CATA and general manager of the show since 2010, and then in 2022, is that when it was, Jen?




    We became co-General Managers. That was so we wouldn’t lose Jen.




    And it’s all worked out… spectacularly. So, career highlights, one was when we expanded into two halls in 2005. We made an announcement in 2004. First, we had to get the North Hall. 


    We had to convince the tourism bureau, whose job it is to fill hotel rooms, that a public show, with largely drive-in attendance, was good for using that much of McCormick Place for that much time in a month that’s normally a quiet month on the McCormick Place calendar. And so we were successful in doing that and it happened to coincide with Chrysler, at the time probably Daimler-Chrysler, coming up with the idea of Camp Jeep, and so we had to convince the people at McCormick Place that we could have vehicles moving up and down hills, inside the show, and our initial answer from them was “no.” I wrote a letter to the mayor, and thankfully we had a very well-connected labor lawyer at the time who helped us get that letter into the right hands, and so the safety officials, it was really with the city, reconsidered, and it’s funny because we got the “no,” and the answer was, you can’t have vehicles moving where there’s, you know, the public. I was watching a commercial, this was some time during the year, after we got the “no,” and it was the circus at United Center and they had motorcycles going inside these steel balls, and it was like, “If the circus can do it, can’t we?” So anyway, we asked that question, better worded than what I just did there, and we got the “no” turned into a “yes.” As we got bigger, Daimler-Chrysler that year went from 60,000 square feet to 180,000 square feet, just with Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, and Chrysler. So they had a multi-brand track, they had a Dodge track, which was the trucks, back then before Ram, and then Jeep. It was just wildly successful for us, and has been for 20 years. And we’ll get them back [editor’s note: Stellantis, now the corporate parent of Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler, will not be participating at the Chicago Auto Show this year].


    Another highlight was the summer show. To think that this team, this small team, we were trying to get the show open during the pandemic and Mark Bilek just did an amazing job helping us be able to sell all of our tickets online and have timed entrance windows so we can sell all this to the city and to the state and get a “yes.” We couldn’t get a “yes” for February 2021 (the special edition ran in July 2021), but I’d had this idea for how we could refashion the show to be shorter and smaller and have an outdoor element to it with test drives, and make it less expensive to the manufacturers due to the shorter move-in and we’d charge less for five days rather than 10 so we cut our exhibits price by 40%. We got it approved and I remember the day we announced it at McCormick Place, the governor and the mayor were there, and Jen was like, her fingers were smoking on her keyboard, like, standing at this highboy table just getting us everywhere, just PR social media extraordinaire. Then we were able to open without too many, really any health restrictions at all because it was during a lull in the pandemic and it just really went well. We were the only show then, the only big show, that was able to run every year during the pandemic. Never missed a show.


    So, Dave, what are you going to miss most in retirement and what are you looking forward to most in retirement?


    You know, for all the show anxiety that we have, as it goes… Jen’s been saying for the past couple of weeks, “I just can’t wait to get it open.” 


    We need to get down to McCormick Place.


    It really is fun to see just how much people enjoy the show. And then, on the association side, we’ve had a couple of big legislative victories that our team’s been involved in. We work with the best of the best of dealers. I know that there’s a bad reputation for dealers sometimes, but we work with really great people, really great businesspeople who are a big part of their communities and it’s gratifying to see just how they work together in their communities and work for something like BBQ for the Troops, or the betterment of this organization, and there’s a lot of great things about it. So, the excitement of the show and the fun of working with dealers who are just great businesspeople. 


    What are your plans for retirement?


    I’m looking forward to spending time with my granddaughters. My wife watches them every day. We moved close to their school, where they will go to school and where my daughter-in-law teaches, so we get to watch the little ones every day and then the older one, we get to see every day. Being a grandfather has just really changed my outlook on life. To be able to retire early and buy five extra years with my wife and my granddaughters is really exciting. 


    This is for both of you — why is Jen the perfect person to take over for Dave? You can sing your praises here, Jen.


    I will sing her praises. So, Jen is, like, the perfect employee. And [MAMA President Robert] Duffer will tell you this, because we had this conversation. When Jen came to tell me she had been recruited to a PR firm downtown, I said to Duffer, “It’s, like, my worst day. My one job was to hold on to Jen.” Then, he said, “Well, how long did you have her?” and I said, “10 years,” and he said, “That’s probably five years longer than you deserved to have her.”


    Sounds like Duffer.


    Her expertise with social media and everything digital has allowed us to expand the reach of the show far beyond the 10 days at McCormick Place. That really is the future of where auto shows are going. So to lose her at this critical time, we could have made it work, but it was too much to overcome at the time. While I might have been the right leader for that particular moment, she’s the right leader for the future, so if we lost her, the question would be, could we ever get her back? I just couldn’t take that chance. So I accelerated my timeline, which worked, again, for me and my wife personally. It’s not a sacrifice, I don’t want to make it sound like it is. It’s what is right for our association, and Jen and I have had this discussion many times. The opportunity for me to put her in an opportunity to succeed at CATA really puts a nice little bow on my career because she is the right person to take us forward. 


    Every time I hear that story, I told Dave this, I don’t have the words to thank him quite yet [laughs] because it just seems to fall flat. What I would say is, I’ve always looked up to Dave as a mentor throughout my whole career and we actually come from a very similar background, which is kind of full circle how we met and how I came to work at the Chicago Auto Trade Association in the first place. So our background is very similar, public relations, and that as we all know on this call has transitioned more to the digital…back in the day I was faxing press releases, and then it turned to, how do you reach the people where they are? The advent of social media actually started the Chicago Auto Show’s Facebook fan page, when it wasn’t a profile page, it was a fan page back in the day, and our Twitter account, so it’s kind of fun to come full circle. I give Dave a lot of credit for his foresight to see that because I don’t know many people who would have that same take on the situation. I feel very humbled, I always say this, [for Dave] to be really selfless and to think about the show and the positioning of our show moving forward. I feel very lucky to be in this position every day. Obviously we’re faced with a lot of challenges… we do have a lot of challenges, we’re not sugarcoating anything, and we’re going to adapt. Our whole team, Dave mentioned Mark, but we have a fantastic team. Jim OBrill, obviously, is a board member of MAMA, he’s a crucial team member to us. Hayley Feichter is another MAMA member, fantastic, talking about digital and social, it’s almost like the next generation. It’s been really fun to lead this team and co-lead with Dave. His knowledge, the 30 years’ historical knowledge, is so important. I would just add that there’s no one in our industry, the auto trade association leaders, that have done this. Sometimes the person retires too soon or unexpectedly and they don’t have a transition in place, so it’s actually sparked some of our leaders across the country to follow what Dave’s doing and say, “Wow, that’s really smart,” because this job is so unique. Like Dave said, he kind of alluded to it, we have a lot of legislative priorities, we do a lot of different behind-the-scenes things that people don’t always pinpoint with this job. You think of the auto show, what everyone knows about and hears about. It’s our Super Bowl, it’s our big event. But there are a lot of other priorities that we have throughout the year, so it’s been fantastic to have Dave as a leader and a mentor and to have him here these couple of years, to continue to learn from him has been… I mean, I’m just so fortunate and so lucky every day. 


    Just to elaborate on Jen’s strengths and the Chicago Auto Show for a moment, we have always branded ourselves as “the consumer auto show,” right? And the pendulum has swung back to, “Oh, auto shows are really about the consumer, it turns out,” singing our song that we’ve been saying for 10 years. The value we get through social media and hundreds of thousands of people on the show floor with a recording device, a phone, then pushes all that content out to their friends and family and followers, to be able to harness that and measure it and then be able to report those measurements to the OEMs, that is what Jen and Mark and now Hayley and Jim have done so well and really positioned Chicago well for the future, again. I echo what Jen said earlier about Mark and Chris Konecki, they’re kind of close to me in age and to make the move to Jen just signals to the manufacturers, the OEMs, the exhibitors, that we’re in this for the long haul. We see the future. And to have someone Jen’s age and experience and expertise shows exactly where we think the shows are going. 


    Dave sort of mentioned this too, but in terms of the auto show, it’s not just the in-person event that’s an auto show, it’s all the digital tie to it. That’s where the sweet spot happens because what we found is that car shopping websites have a major uptick in traffic when our auto show is taking place. Showing that people are going to their sites, shopping for vehicles, learning about their vehicles. We know that our digital impressions, the numbers are crazy, it’s millions and billions of impressions, I almost feel silly saying that, but that’s the kind of reach that our hashtag and our mentions get during that period. Our team, Jim and Hayley, to their credit, we take a 10-day public show and the content from that show and we literally communicate with our fans throughout the whole year. That’s very unique to our show. I know other shows sometimes tend to go dark when their event’s not taking place, which makes complete sense, but we are lucky in the fact that we have other assets, like Drive Chicago, with our radio show, with our website, with our social channels, to use that as a platform as well. I think that because of our team’s strength and background in marketing and digital that we’re able to carry that message out in a year-round way.


    You can both speak to this. How has the partnership between CATA and MAMA been beneficial?


    You may know that my predecessor, Jerry Cizek, told Jim Mateja, “Hey, we need to have a media association here in Chicago,” and Mateja got it going. I think I was around for the first rally, I was working for a PR firm and Rick Popely and my boss went and sent us a rally route before Mark Bilek got us in with Road America. It’s been a great relationship and the one thing that wasn’t said when talking about the investment in the Chicago Auto Show and so on, we do go halvers on that breakfast, MAMA and the CATA, and it used to be that someone from MAMA would sit, collect $20 or something like that for the MAMA luncheon at the time, which started on a Wednesday afternoon, and then we finally said, “Let’s just make this free and make it a breakfast,” and it worked for the two-day thing that we had. It’s really been a great relationship, obviously. We built this building during that time and then it became a place where MAMA could have luncheons and not have to pay a lot of fees for hosting something at a hotel or something like that. We love it because we’ve had four staffers as board members of MAMA in different capacities and there’s been a great relationship there over the years. 


    I’d just elaborate too by saying that the MAMA group, and I think a lot of us share the same sentiment, just feels like family. It’s so wonderful to just be able to pick up the phone and call you, Cherise, or call someone at a manufacturer, and you already have that relationship established. Road America and the Spring Rally and those events certainly help cement that, but I just always appreciate the candidness that our group has with one another and just the ability to help one another, really. It’s been wonderful, and we look forward to continue that relationship. I know we’ve kind of gotten away from the in-person events because of the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of virtual lunch-and-learns, which are great, time-efficient and everything, that’s great, but our building was kind of the meeting place, too, so, happy to continue to offer that location to MAMA members. We look forward to another long-term relationship with the MAMA breakfast, of course, and us sponsoring and partnering on the Spring Rally. It’s been great. And I should mention, Chicago Drives Electric, that was one of those crazy ideas, well, not crazy but it came out and we said, “Well, we have six months to pull this off, let’s line it all up.” We’re going to have a consumer test drive day, of course, but also a media day, we called our friends at MAMA and they were of course on board and had some wonderful ideas about how to get it off the ground.That’s been a wonderful partnership now over the past couple years and we look forward to partnering for a third year in the fall. 


    Thank you! See you soon!

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

  • 25 Jan 2024 5:03 PM | Anonymous

    The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), an organization comprised of automotive journalists and related industry professionals, elected its 2024 Board of Directors during its annual January business meeting which was held on Wednesday, January 24th.

    The newly elected board includes MAMA’s Secretary Paul Herrold, Treasurer Kelley Enright, and Communications Director Jim OBrill. President Robert Duffer, Vice President Robby DeGraff, and VP of Membership Cherise Threewitt continue with their second year term along with President Emeritus Harvey Briggs.

    During the annual business meeting it was reported that the association, which was founded in 1991, currently maintains a membership of 271 automotive journalists and industry professionals serving in the automotive industry or related fields (+3% YoY).

    It was also announced that the MAMA’s annual Family Vehicle of the Year and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year awards have been changed. The new award program will be called “MAMA’s Favorites” and will include 7 specific categories: Family Vehicle, Luxury Vehicle, Off-Roader, Pick-up Truck, Performance Vehicle, Affordable Vehicle, and Plug-in Vehicle. Additionally, from each category, one overall winner will be selected as the overall “Favorite Vehicle of the Year” which will be revealed at the Chicago Auto Show MAMA Breakfast on February 8th.

    The finalists of the MAMA’s Favorites are: Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid Max (Family), Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD (Luxury), Chevy Trax (Affordable), Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe (Off-Roader), Ford Maverick Tremor (Pick-up), Ford Mustang Dark Horse (Performance), and Hyundai Ioniq 6 (Plug-in).

  • 19 Jan 2024 3:03 PM | Anonymous

    Brian Roskelly, an editor at Cox Automotive with Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, is another of the up-and-coming generation of auto journalists that joined MAMA in 2023. If you haven’t met Brian yet, keep an eye out—he’s sharp and ambitious, and is a great conversation partner at a press dinner.

    MAMA: How did you get started in the automotive media industry? 

    Brian: Networking and persistence, before and during the height of a once-in-a-generation pandemic. My automotive career started with an internship at Mercedes-Benz USA's corporate communications agency in Atlanta, GA, but the two individuals who kicked off my support network were Scotty Reiss and Davis Adams, both fellow alumni from the University of Georgia.

    MAMA: How did you find MAMA? 

    Brian: Encouragement from Midwestern industry colleagues who I now call friends (Robby DeGraff, Jill Ciminillo, probably others).

    MAMA: What’s been your favorite vehicle you’ve reviewed? 

    Brian: Hyundai IONIQ 5.

    MAMA: What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

    Brian: Biking, inline skating, skiing, riding roller coasters, exploring my city.

    MAMA: What was your first car? 

    Brian: A 2013 Scion tC.

    Here are links to Brian’s favorite recent article and video:

  • 17 Jan 2024 3:52 PM | Anonymous

    Kicking off another great year ahead, MAMA members on Tuesday, January 16, were treated to a virtual backgrounder that focused on an important addition to the Lexus's lineup: the new TX. 40 or so members tuned into a Zoom presentation by Brooke Sinek (Lexus Product Communications), Richard Hollingsworth (Lexus Product Marketing), and Katelyn Salzman (Lexus College).From the latest sales numbers, ongoing marketing efforts, and the key differentiators between the TX and cousin Toyota Grand Highlander, to a breakdown of the TX's trims, MAMA members were given the full inside scoop on this new three-row family hauler. As numbers indicated in the deck, the TX has already been a hit for the luxury brand after only a few months on the market. The timing of this virtual backgrouder proved to be just as beneficial too, as MAMA members learned more about the incoming TX500h F SPORT PERFORMANCE plug-in hybrid model set to arrive at dealers throughout Q1 and Q2. 

    Following the virtual backgrounder, MAMA members participated in an engaging Q&A session with Salzman, Sinek, and Hollingsworth. Look for the 2024 Lexus TX to likely be one of the many vehicles on the roster at our upcoming MAMA Spring Rally at Road America in late May.

    A recording of the virtual backgrounder can be accessed here.

  • 08 Jan 2024 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) announced the seven category winners for MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle of 2024 award. Each winner is now a finalist for the overall title that will be voted on by the association’s 189 nationwide media members.

    MAMA’s Favorites is a new award, building on the strength of the association’s prior Family Vehicle of the Year and Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year awards. It was expanded to recognize the diversity of vehicles available and of interest to the readers, viewers, and listeners of MAMA’s membership base.

    “With more than 100 new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles MAMA members could drive during 2023, it was time to assess the breadth and depth of product at each event and for the year as a whole,” said Robert Duffer, MAMA President. “You could say MAMA loves all of her vehicles equally, but everyone knows there’s only one MAMA’s Favorite.”

    All candidates for the awards were driven by MAMA members at one of the three drive events in 2023: The MAMA Spring Rally, MAMA’s Favorites Fall Fest, and Chicago Drives Electric. Voting after each event narrowed a lengthy candidate list of more than 100 eligible vehicles to only a select few finalists in each appropriate category. After a vote in November, the category winners for 2024 are:

    • MAMA’s Favorite Family Vehicle: Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid MAX
    • MAMA’s Favorite Luxury Vehicle: Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD
    • MAMA’s Favorite Off-Roader: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X 4xe
    • MAMA’s Favorite Pickup Truck: Ford Maverick Tremor
    • MAMA’s Favorite Performance Vehicle: Ford Mustang Dark Horse
    • MAMA’s Favorite Affordable Vehicle: Chevrolet Trax
    • MAMA’s Favorite Plug-In Vehicle: Hyundai IONIQ 6

    Voting is now open for the overall MAMA's Favorite Vehicle of 2024 award that will be announced at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show welcome breakfast, hosted by MAMA, on February 8.

    About the Midwest Automotive Media Association

    Founded in 1991, and now in its 33st year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association comprises 273 automotive journalists and public relations professionals from across the country and Canada. The association’s primary purpose is to provide a forum for the major issues in the automotive industry and to connect newsworthy products with key people.

  • 14 Dec 2023 4:56 PM | Anonymous

    On December 13th , 42 MAMA members logged onto Zoom to learn about new EV batteries and technology from Andy Oury, the “Engineering Technical Leader for High Voltage Battery Packs” at General Motors. Andy explained the fundamentals of battery design and how it works, including the ins and outs of GM’s own Ultium EV battery and how GM uses this battery in their current product line up.

    Next, Andy discussed the different ways in which individual batteries are placed into large EV battery packs, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each. Then came some EV battery myth-busting: Andy addressed the common misconceptions that the general public has concerning EV batteries, including materials used in manufacturing, expected life-span, refurbishing and recycling, After the presentation, the spotlight was then turned to MAMA members for a Q&A session and final wrap-up.

    From parallel versus series circuits and AC versus DC charging, to the differences between batteries used in electric vehicles and those used in consumer electronics, Andy was an encyclopedia of knowledge and kept everyone engaged throughout his presentation. MAMA would like to thank Andy Oury and General Motors for sharing valuable information about their Ultium battery technology and for educating our members on, not only how EV batteries are made, but how they really work as well.

  • 07 Dec 2023 9:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MAMA members were recently invited to attend two virtual lunch meetings to learn about some of the most innovative automotive gadgets available on the market today. 


    Emporia Energy, who previously gave a presentation about its consumer-facing charging equipment in the spring and was a sponsor of our 2022 Spring Rally at Road America, returned in late October to share details about the company’s newest home-use Level 2 charging station—a game changer for older homes limited to 100-amp electrical service or less. Until now, homeowners had to hire a professional electrician to increase their home electrical panel to a 200-amp service, costing thousands of 

    dollars. But Emporia’s latest Level 2 charger with Load Management allows homeowners to not have to upgrade their home’s electrical service anymore. CEO Shawn McLaughlin explained to MAMA members by continuously monitoring the total electrical usage of the home, the system automatically reduces power to the EV charging unit if a high load from other electrical sources is detected. When you plug in your electric vehicle, for instance, the system will begin charging at the maximum set rate. If, however, it’s a hot summer day and your air conditioning unit powers up, the Load Management computer will instantly reduce the EV’s charging rate to prevent any overloading on your home system and tripping a circuit breaker. Once the extra load is finished(the air conditioning unit cycles off), the system will automatically increase the charger rate once more. This all happens seamlessly: you’ll never know the charging rate was temporarily reduced. Best of all, the unit itself retails for only $599. 

    In a second virtual lunch meeting held in early November, MAMA members were introduced to Nextbase’s all-new line of 

    dashcams. Nextbase first joined MAMA a few years ago at our 2021 Spring Rally at Road America, partnering with Mitsubishi to not only showcase their lineup of dash cams but also a capable Outlander modified for the Rebelle Rally, in which members were able to take on the off-road course. This time, Nextbase’s VP of Marketing, Jeff Chuh, returned to chat about the company’s new "Nextbase iQ,” dashcams that integrate AI-powered technology and full 4G connectivity to offer buyers features previously only available as expensive built-in car options. Like Tesla’s Sentry Mode, for instance, the iQ’s Smart Sense Parking uses proximity and G-Force sensors to record when anyone is near your vehicle. It even sends video updates to your smartphone in real time. Another feature, Emergency SOS, will automatically alert emergency services with your location and other potentially-lifesaving details following a serious accident—great for older or less-optioned vehicles that are not already equipped with SOS services. The most useful feature, however, might be Guardian Mode: it notifies vehicle owners or parents based on specific triggers, like speeding, erratic driving, and GPS boundaries, to keep you alerted when your vehicle is left with a valet, mechanic, or most importantly, a family member. Pricing is equally as impressive, starting at just $499 for 1080p resolution, $599 for 2K, and $699 for ultra 4K.


    For auto journalists, learning about car-related gadgets and tech betters our understanding of the 

    entire automotive landscape. MAMA-arranged meetings, whether virtual or in-person, help members from around the country and into Canada keep up with all the latest trends.  We thank both Emporia Energy and Nextbase for their insightful presentations, engaging Q&A sessions, and continued support of MAMA.! 

  • 06 Nov 2023 11:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    To kick-off autumn, in late September MAMA helds its inaugural MAMA’s Favorites Fall Fest at the scenic Danada House in Wheaton, IL. Despite brief patches of gray skies and bouts of heavy rain, 30+ MAMA members throughout the course of the day were able to get behind the wheel of two dozen exciting new, refreshed, or updated vehicles ranging from sports cars with three pedals to posh luxury crossovers and impressive budget-friendly choices. Participating automakers included Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Jeep, Subaru, Ford, Acura, Hyundai, Toyota, Genesis, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Dodge, Kia, Chevrolet, Chrysler, GMC. In addition to ample time for video and static, two different drive routes allowed members to engage even more with the vehicle. Additionally, communications and product representatives were available on site to answer any questions MAMA members may have had leading up to category voting for the organization’s annual “MAMA’s Favorite Vehicle” awards. Winners will be revealed at next year’s Chicago Auto Show welcome breakfast. This event took place just prior to MAMA and CATA’s Chicago Drives Electric media day that focuses on EVs and plug-in hybrids.



  • 03 Nov 2023 9:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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 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, 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.”


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