Chrysler scores pre-auto show attention with track

AUBURN HILLS, MI: The Chrysler Group is already grabbing early headlines for a new PR twist during the Chicago Auto Show.

AUBURN HILLS, MI: The Chrysler Group is already grabbing early headlines for a new PR twist during the Chicago Auto Show.

Chrysler recently gave the Chicago Tribune an exclusive on its intention to have a half-mile test track at its auto show display next February.

Consumers will be able to ride in professionally driven Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler models around the company's 156,000-square-foot exhibit area.

Tribune auto writer Jim Mateja wrote about the test track in his December 1 column. Chrysler put out a release on its plans last Monday.

Auto shows are traditionally major PR events. The Chicago show is considered a major venue for unveiling new products.

Chrysler plans to announce two as yet undisclosed new products at next year's show, but wanted to do something to garner press and consumer attention ahead of the auto show, noted Jason Vines, VP of communications for Chrysler.

"We're trying to look at new ways to [update] an old model," he said about the event.

The test-track idea came out of similar tactics used to attract consumers in New York.

Chrysler held Camp Jeep at this year's New York auto show and allowed attendees to test-drive Jeep vehicles.

"People stayed in our display longer than any other place" as a result of that effort, Vines said.

Thirty vehicles will be operating on the test track at any given moment during the Chicago show, Vines noted.

Reporters will get a chance to test-drive the cars during media preview days before the show's opening to the general public.

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