Auto Show Rolls Into Town

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 10:11 am
By: News On 6

If you're driving by the Tulsa County fairgrounds and it seems like there's something special in the air. It's not spring. It's new car smell! It's time again for the Tulsa International Auto Show. The Expo Center is a big building and the News On 6's Steve Berg reports they need all the space because there are more new models here than ever.

Tulsa Car Show founder Charlie Taber has been doing this for 19 years now. Most years, he says you'll find around 30 new models on display. This time, it's twice that.

"This year, 2007 - 2008, there are 61 new model introductions,” said Taber. "And we've got them all here."

Part of the reason is that over the past several years, fuel prices have fragmented the market creating additional categories of vehicles.

"People are demanding more of the hybrids, more of the crossovers, things like that,” Taber said. “So a lot of the things I've never seen are here for the first time."

U.S. automakers have been racing to catch up in the increasingly popular crossover segment that blends a car-like ride with some of the hauling and bad weather traction of SUV's. One of the more tempting offerings is the Lincoln MKX.

"To me this has got the prettiest interior of all of them that I've seen so far," said Taber. "I've only seen about 10% of them."

And there's a lot of buzz about the 8-passenger, GMC Acadia. Toyota continues to lead the way in hybrid technology with more than three-quarters of the market at last check. It's added a hybrid Camry and Highlander to the original Prius.

"60 miles per gallon is pretty good, almost like a motorcycle," Taber said.

And horsepower fans fear not. Power never goes out of style completely. For example, the highly acclaimed Saturn Sky roadster comes in a new redline version with 260 horsepower, that's 80 more than the base version. And concept cars always provide some fun. The Chrysler concept will never be built and Taber says that's a shame, with a 12-cylinder engine and 850 horsepower combined with a luxury interior.

"Chrysler ME-412 is what this is called,” he said. “And it was built for nothing but fun."

The show runs today through Sunday. The hours are from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow. On Saturday, they're open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. And on Sunday, it goes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults. Kids 12 and under are free.