VIP tours spark interest in SUVs, EVs, autonomous cars

Showgoers who wanted a more personal Washington Auto Show experience opted to go on a VIP tour. Many of those on the tours were in the market for a new vehicle and were glad for the chance to tap the expertise of the experienced tour guides, all experts in the car world.

The tour guides were John Davis, host and creator of PBS’s “Motorweek”; William W. Hopper, producer of the Automotive Business Report and president of the Washington Automotive Press Association; Les Jackson, distinguished auto journalist and cohost of nationally syndicated radio show “Cruise Control”; Alvin Jones, host of automotive TV show “Planet Vehicle”; and Fadra Nally, who covers the car scene on her lifestyle blog “All Things Fadra.”

“The tours for all of us went quite well,” said Jackson. “The people were quite enthusiastic.”

Dealers experienced in the Washington area auto market won’t be surprised to learn that the greatest number of questions were about crossover SUVs. Consumers are especially interested in vehicles like the Chevrolet Blazer, “lifestyle” crossovers for everyday driving, Jackson said. People on his tours were surprised to learn that a Mustang SUV will come out in the next couple of years.

Jackson also discovered from his tour groups that consumers, especially women, are buying pickup trucks for commuting.

“They say, ‘I feel so much safer and more immune to road range’ in a pickup,” Jackson said.

“They all realize that passenger cars are the least desirable vehicles people are buying because they want SUVs of various sizes,” he added.

Jackson’s tours also sought to find out what’s next with electrification and autonomous vehicles.

“I explain to them that autonomy does not mean free will,” he said.

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