Chicago Auto Show to feature fuel-efficient cars

February 8, 2013

Scott Kanowsky

Scott Kanowsky/WBEZ
An electric car at the Green Wheels exhibit at the Chicago Auto Show.

The Chicago Auto Show opens to the public at the McCormick Place this weekend, with fuel-efficient vehicles on the minds of car makers and consumers alike.

Although the displays of Aston Martins and Corvettes here still get the most attention from car lovers, it's not just about horsepower.

Industry experts said these auto shows, along with being a collection of sleek sports cars and bulky trucks, serve to whet buyers’ appetites.

That's why many car makers are proudly displaying their most fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Green is sexy,” said Carey Chickerneo, who runs the automotive operations for Green Wheels, a West Side dealership that sells and repairs environmentally-friendly cars.

He said he thinks these vehicles will “explode” in popularity some day, but for now prices are keeping buyers away.

“They’re charging more money to be green and they shouldn’t. When you think green, you need to think two shades of green: the green in the wallet and the green in the planet,” Chickerneo said.

His concern was echoed by auto industry insider Joe Wiesenfelder, Executive Editor at Cars.com.

"I would counsel any consumer to look at the bottom line first, [and] don't say 'I want to be efficient, I'm going to buy a hybrid.' Bad idea. If you want to be efficient, go get something with good mileage," he said.

But Wiesenfelder still said he thinks consumers will continue to buy hybrid vehicles as fuel prices rise. 

The Chicago Auto Show has been around since 1901 and runs this year until February 18th.