Between the arrival of an administration with an interest in greater involvement in the design of new cars and the federal government-backed bankruptcies of two of the three domestic carmakers, Washington DC has become a new center of power for the car industry in recent years.
Reflecting that shift, the Washington Auto Show has gained increased prominence, hosting important new model introductions and providing a platform for industry executives to address critical issues.
The 2011 Washington Auto Show opens to the public Friday, Jan. 28, with a sneak preview for the press the day before and runs until Feb. 6 at the Washington Convention Center. The preview is preceded by a Green Car Summit on Capitol Hill that is co-moderated by Ron Cogan, publisher of The Green Car Journal and Warren Brown, car reviewer for The Washington Post.
The panel includes representatives from the car industry, energy producers, think tanks and government research labs and will address the search for a realistic path toward improved fuel efficiency, energy security and fuel diversity.
The show itself kicks off with an address by oft-quoted industry analyst Rebecca Lindland, who will examine whether consumers are really interested in buying small cars. General Motors' North American president Mark Reuss gives the keynote along with press announcements from BMW, Ford and Toyota and a lifetime achievement award to the indomitable Carroll Shelby by Automotive News magazine publisher Keith Crain.
For show-goers the action starts Friday, Jan. 28, as the show opens to the public, promising relief from cabin fever that can occur this time of the year due to cold weather. In addition to the hundreds of new cars for consumers to try on for size, there is plenty of other entertainment to help keep all members of the family engaged while at the show.
Expected concept cars at the show include the BMW ActiveE, Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept, Ford Kuga concept and Hyundai's Blue Will concept. For those suffering automotive overload, they can visit with current and former members of the Redskins and Wizards/Bullets and see the ‘Skins' cheerleaders and Wizards dance team, watch magic shows or see PBS kids' television characters.
Show-goers who are beyond the age to enjoy Clifford the Big Red Dog might participate in a Speed Dating opportunity conducted by Professionals in the City.
Playing off the show's theme of escaping cabin fever, there is a Facebook contest for the worst cabin fever story facebook.com/WashAutoShow. The winner scores free tickets to the auto show and a visit with reality TV personality, Snooki. The DC Lottery is offering a Second Chance contest to win a 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Mega Millions or Powerball players who didn't win will get a shot at the car, along with one hundred $100 gas cards that will be given away.
The Price is Right contest challenges show-goers to guess the correct price of a new Hyundai Sonata, the total amount of cash stuffed into the car and the cost of travel and lodging to see The Price is Right in person. The person with the closest guess wins the Sonata, the cash and the visit to a taping of the show.
Stop by the AutoTrader.com booth during the show to check out the interactive displays, get car shopping advice and meet visiting celebrities, including NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green and NBA legend Gheorghe Muresan.
The abundance of activities explains why this year's Washington Auto Show has doubled in length, from five days to ten, so DC metro area residents have the maximum chance to get out of the cold while eyeing some hot cars.
You can save 50% off the price of admission on Friday, Feb. 4, by printing this coupon courtesy of AutoTrader.com.