DETROIT – The Chicago Auto Show was anything but electric this year as the few automakers who introduced new vehicles focused their efforts on trucks and performance cars, rather than the hybrids and battery-powered vehicles that have been making headlines in recent months.
General Motors didn’t even bother to bring any new products with them, instead hoping to make a splash by unveiling the four-wheeled cast of the upcoming action film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which is made up of Chevrolet vehicles that turn into robots called Autobots.
Ed Peper, General Manager of Chevrolet says the exposure generated by the film should help raise brand awareness at a time when the company is in desperate need of some.
Chrysler focused its efforts on new heavy duty versions of its Dodge Ram pickups aimed at commercial customers, but with the downturn in the economy slowing construction projects and taking a lot of small businesses down with it, the short term outlook for sales is not positive.
Chrysler’s VP for Product Development, Frank Klegon told FOXNews.com that the vehicles are part of a broader pallet of core products that the company is concentrating on as it restructures, adding that the updated restructuring plan the company will present to Congress next week, as a requirement of the bailout loans it has received, will show a lot of progress toward recovery.
Ford is going after new commercial buyers too, but on the other end of the spectrum. The Transit Connect is a compact van imported from Turkey that’s more affordable and fuel efficient than traditional full-size vans, and targeted at business-owners who need to carry things for work, but on a small scale. The automaker also rolled out a Harley-Davidson branded version of the F-150 pickup, and the high-performance Taurus SHO sedan.
The only entirely new car that debuted at the show was the Kia Forte, a compact that will replace the strong-selling Spectra that helped Kia to an increase in sales in January of this year, one of only three companies to do so.