The 2015 Chicago Auto Show media preview revealed all-new products, concepts, and marketing projections from domestic and import car makers.
There were interesting concepts from Nissan (the 350 Z Nismo Roadster and GT-R LP NISMO Racer-pictured), Mitsubishi (the GC-Phev), and Kia (Trail’Ster AWD).
New products included the 2016 Kia Rio, 2016 Honda Pilot, 2016 Chevy Equinox and 2015 Silverado Custom, and 2016 Acura RDX.
Ram made the most impressive showing with its all-new luxury truck model, the 2015 Laramie Limited. Motivated by growing sales volumes in the premium truck segment, Bob Hegbloom, president and CEO, Ram Truck Brand—FCA US LLC, shared that premium models now taks up 38 percent of Ram 1500 sales and 44 percent of the Ram 3500 series sell for more than $60,000.
The new Ram will set itself apart by more than just its price tag. Gone is the crosshair grille, replaced instead with a billet port configuration. Chrome is heavily featured on the outside, from the grille to the oversized Ram badge on the tailgate. The interior looks exceptional, with accent stitching, piping, and real wood accents. Mighty fancy!
The 2015 Laramie Limited will be available across the lineup, i.e. 1500–3500, and with the 3.5-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine on the 1500 that earns a best-in-class 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
Toyota also showed new products with special edition versions of its Corolla, Camry, and Avalon. Made in the U.S.A., the special editions will be offered in a red, white, and blue color palette. Hyundai showed refreshed versions of the 2016 Elantra GT and Veloster, as well as a special edition of the Veloster Rally (right-pictured with Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai senior group manager and product planner) that goes on sale this May.
Nissan’s VP José Muñoz was the featured speaker at the business luncheon sponsored by The Economic Club of Chicago. He began with a look at Nissan’s history in the U.S. that started in 1958 with a reconaissance mission to check the viability of the U.S. market for Nissan (Datsun at the time).
Fast forward to Nissan’s impact in the U.S. and a look at its four manufacturing facilities, beginning with the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee that produced 648,000 vehicles last year, more than any other U.S. auto plant, domestic or foreign. In total, Nissan employs more than 22,000 U.S. workers.
Muñoz attributed this success to a bold vision that focused on three key areas: local production, workforce training, and capitalizing on changing demographics. Thirty-six percent of Nissan owners are ethnically diverse, he said, and Nissan’s workforce also reflects the marketplace. “Diversity is not just a smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
He also stated that Nissan is approaching its goal of capturing 10 percent of the U.S. automotive market.
“Our story is the American story and there is so much more to come,” he concluded.
The 2015 Chicago Auto Show is open to the public through February 22.