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Chicago Auto Show 2019 Preview: The Most Disappointing Show With a Delightful Surprise

Illustration for article titled Chicago Auto Show 2019 Preview: The Most Disappointing Show With a Delightful Surprise

Madame DeLorean had a sort of dream to be a photojournalist for a show and I was happy we were able to do this. I have a writeup on the show and a couple automakers coming, complete with high quality photography! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of some of what’s to come.


And to clarify ahead of time, much of it will be positive!

CAS 2019 was Madame DeLorean’s first auto show and just my luck, it has to be the absolute worst year for CAS I’ve attended since I started going in 2009. Key automakers were simply missing, some of the automakers that did show up dramatically scaled down their presence, and the activities offered to the Media this year were little and sometimes nonexistent. This is one of the few years where going once was all I needed. Despite that, we were able to find a few gems in all of the disappointment.


We interviewed a representative for an automaker that I’ll for now leave unnamed. The vehicles on display were absolutely mind boggling. They look great, they perform well, they’re built in the USA, and best of all they only cost about the price of a Honda Civic Touring. They even have a 200+ mile EV the same price as a Bolt and the performance of a higher end Model 3, but with their drop dead looks and high quality. Lately I’ve been saying that the MX-5 will likely be the first non-smart I’ll buy, but I think I’ve found a vehicle I love even more?

Unfortunately, the representative wasn’t really up to snuff on his knowledge of the vehicles on his display. He knew the basic information from the spec sheets sitting next to the cars, but he didn’t know much more.


Madame DeLorean - equally interested in the cars as I am - asked the representative if a manual transmission is available. The representative said yes (a look at the website later revealed that the only available transmission is a GM 6T40), but mentioned that the manual “option” lacks a clutch pedal, just shifter paddles.

DeLorean followed the question up by asking why does the company not offer a real manual option.


To the shock of us both, the representative answered that question by saying “because women do not drive manuals”. Oooh...not great wording. DeLorean snapped back with “and is this something the company has researched?” to which the representative answered “yes, we interviewed 5,000 women drivers and only 10 said they would prefer a manual”. Fair enough.

I followed up his question by asking him what kind of engine the vehicle has and if the manual transmission is a dual clutch or single clutch. He only knew that it was a 1.4 GM engine and GM transmission, not anything else. Again, the manufacturer’s website saves the day and confirms the engine is a GM Ecotec LUV.


...But wait, that “women do not drive manuals so we aren’t doing a manual” explanation doesn’t make sense here. Not only are they not marketing this vehicle to women - in fact, all of their marketing materials feature men - but it’s supposedly a hardcore enthusiast vehicle. Enthusiast cars are known to have much higher manual take rates, so this doesn’t really pass the sniff test. DeLorean brought this up, to which the representative responded that women who like manuals like us aren’t the norm and they’re going to build for the norm...for women? That answer really didn’t clarify anything..

Honestly, I think a better explanation would have been: “We chose this transmission because we felt it would be the best of both worlds, manual shifting when you want it, ease and convenience when you don’t.”


It’s clear this manufacturer isn’t even making their own drivetrains, so it seems more likely the lack of a manual is simply a cost saving measure. They chose a transmission that would fit the most people. That’s fine with me. It’s just bizarre he seemed willing to go to such lengths to blame women for the lack of a manual when they aren’t even targeting women in their marketing.

Anyway, despite that awful interview, Madame DeLorean and I added one the cars to our bucket list and if that company is still around when I climb higher up the ladder in my career they can be sure I’ll plunk down the cash. What is the car? I’ll reveal it soon. ;)


You can also expect full write-ups that will be co-authored by my love, as well. And for Just Jeepin’ we got you full photos of the orange anniversary edition MX-5.

Edit: Proofreading!

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