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Chicago Auto Show opens Saturday with plenty of EVs, but minus one of the Big Three

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

The annual Chicago Auto Show opens Saturday at McCormick Place, and for the first time in nearly a century, one of the Big Three automakers will not be there.

Tightening its belt in the wake of the protracted United Auto Workers strike last fall, Stellantis decided to skip the auto show entirely, pulling its Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Ram vehicles off the floor and ending the two-decade run of the popular Camp Jeep test track.

In the wake of the Stellantis exit, the auto show has consolidated exhibits down from two halls into one, but packed the space with an expansive lineup of brands, plenty of interactive exhibits and a robust lineup of electric vehicles, including show newcomers Tesla and Lucid.

Chicagoans will have their first chance to kick the giant tires of the long-delayed Tesla Cybertruck, a futuristic-looking EV that began rolling off the production line last fall. They can also get their first look at the digitally refreshed 2025 Ford Explorer, which is made in Chicago.

Homegrown Rivian, which makes EV trucks and SUVs in downstate Normal, remains a no-show at this year’s auto show.

Electric vehicles will be center stage once again this year, with a dedicated EV test track and a slew of new offerings. But there may be a few bumps in the road ahead for EV manufacturers, who are facing slowing demand and their own potential labor strife.

 

Edmunds is projecting 15.7 million new cars to be sold in 2024, up from 15.5 million last year. EV market share is expected to reach 8% of total new vehicle sales in 2024, up from 6.9% last year, according to the car shopping website.

EVs topped the 1 million sales mark in the U.S. last year for the first time.

But there are signs, despite federal, state and manufacturer incentives, that EV adoption has decelerated as consumers grapple with spotty charging infrastructure, range anxiety and other logistical hurdles to taking the plunge.

VW America CEO Pablo Di Si, an Argentine who attended Loyola University in Chicago during the 1990s, returned to town for the auto show, touting the brand’s ambitious strategy to offer a lineup of 25 electric vehicles planned by 2030.

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