New-car fever is putting money into buyers’ pockets this year at the Twin Cities Auto Show.
Amid heightened interest in new cars and trucks, two car companies are offering $50 gift cards to people who register with a salesperson at the show and agree to test drive a vehicle at a local dealership.
Weekend attendance at the show in the Minneapolis Convention Center increased 5 percent over last year’s first weekend, said Scott Lambert, president of the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association of Minnesota. The show continues through Sunday.
Ford/Lincoln and Chevrolet offered the best show incentives to potential customers who later visit a local dealer. Ford is offering a $50 MasterCard gift card and Chevy is offered a $50 gift card to Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Amazon or Dick’s Sporting Goods. The cards are mailed two to four weeks after the test drive.
Admission to the show is $10, but attendees can easily find discounts on tickets outside the Convention Center and at the gate.
On Saturday and Sunday, anyone who wants a free booster-seat safety check can drive up directly outside the Convention Center on Grant Street. One free ticket to the auto show is offered to those who take part. Tickets are $2 off for those who buy online or print a coupon at www.twin citiesautoshow.com.
Those bringing a nonperishable food item also receive $2 off admission Friday through Sunday.
Besides the promos, this year’s show offers a number of new attractions. In addition to the 450 new models on display, a sprawling Camp Jeep obstacle course ride, a rock climbing tower and a Jeep kids track were popular Saturday and Sunday.
Ford salespeople had a lot of inquiries from parents about the automaker’s MyKey system, which cuts down on driver distractions. It enables an adult to control teen driving behavior, such as maximum speed, and features a stereo system with volume limits and a muting feature that deactivates only when seat belts are fastened.
“Teenagers say they get more car time because their parents feel their driving is safer,”said Fritz Wilke, Ford’s marketing manager in Dearborn, Mich.
The concept cars always draw crowds. Lambert said fewer of them are making the auto show rounds, however. This year’s display includes a Toyota Corolla Furia, a larger, flashier sedan, and a Mercedes-Benz CLA, a compact 4-door coupe.
“The show also brings out the best numbers ever for hybrids and plug-ins getting outstanding fuel economy,” said Wilke.