Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 Auto Show Brings Optimism to Auto Industry

Employees of Fox Valley Volkswagen were impressed by the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, and not just with the Volkswagen display, but with the entire event. "The setup this year was amazing," said Christina Wickersheim, Operations Manager at Fox Valley. "Audi has some great new vehicles; Land Rover made some significant changes to their line; Ford's display is enormous; and Buick, Hyundai and Jaguar are showcasing some fantastic new vehicles."

Overall, the 2011 Chicago Auto Show is comprised of quality vehicles, making the economic future of the auto industry look promising. Filled with a jam-packed crowd, the Auto Show saw more foot traffic its opening weekend than it's seen the past two years. And it's the everyday cars that are driving in all the traffic.

"This year, manufacturers were more focused on creating cars that their customers want," said Emir Abinion, President of Fox Valley Volkswagen. "There were a few concept cars, but most manufacturers brought in what they plan on selling in their dealerships." These obtainable cars are making such an impact, people are already frequenting dealerships to buy those they saw. "We had people come into the dealership on Saturday morning after going to the show on Friday night who wanted more information on the new cars we have coming out," said Wickersheim. "People aren't just going to the Auto Show this year to look, they are going to get information on a car they plan on purchasing."

Unlike past years, Auto Show visitors can test drive certain cars. Chevrolet has a course for those wanting to drive the Chevy Volt, the new electric car. Jeep also has a course. "Allowing visitors to drive the cars gives them the extra push to purchase a vehicle," said Shakeel Omar, Owner and Used Car Manager. "They can walk away in love with a car's features as well as the way it handles.”

Along with the other manufacturers showcasing new vehicles, Volkswagen had a few new items on display. "Volkswagen really focused on redesigns this year," said Abinion. "The Touareg, Beetle, Jetta, Eos, Passat—all of them have been redesigned with features our customers are looking for. 2011 is a new year for Volkswagen."

The biggest Volkswagen hit is the new Passat, a mid-size sedan. The Passat is the first American-built sedan in 20 years, and Volkswagen will have the car in showrooms by early fall. This car is also gaining attention because it's equipped with a Fender stereo system. "The system is crazy," said Wickersheim. "When you sit in this car, that stereo system is unlike anything ever heard."

Another Volkswagen eye catcher was the premier of the new GLI, a blend of the regular Jetta's four-door sedan body style with the GTI hatchback's performance modifications. "This car was a big hit with our visitors," said Omar. "It's been getting so much attention, we can't wait to get it into our showroom this spring."

Due to all the traffic Fox Valley Volkswagen alone has seen from the Auto Show, employees are optimistic about the industry's future. "The quality of cars are better and manufactures are doing great things,” said Abinion. "The market is ready to turn and things are looking promising. It's an exciting time for the auto industry."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Contest Winner Has Heart Of Gold

January 26, 2011 will be a day that Stephanie Flood, the 2010 winner of Fox Valley Volkswagen's LoveBug2 Contest, will never forget. After a long day of doctor visits and an MRI, her tests came back clear, making her cancer free for nine long years.

At age nine, Stephanie was diagnosed with ependymoma, an aggressive brain cancer. She has battled the disease four times and has beaten it every time, but she has also experienced late effects due to her treatments. In 2005, she suffered a mini stroke, leaving the left side of her face paralyzed. In 2008, doctors found grey matter in her right hand which has affected her writing abilities.

But through it all, Stephanie remains a positive and giving person. She actively participates in The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, and she has also been involved in multiple events at Children's Memorial Hospital, including The Race for Kids 5K Run/Walk and Taste of Lurie Children's Hospital.

Stephanie Flood, the 2010 winner of Fox Valley Volkswagen's LoveBug2 Contest

Stephanie Flood, the 2010 winner of Fox Valley Volkswagen's LoveBug2 Contest
Stephanie Flood, the 2010 winner of Fox Valley Volkswagen's LoveBug2 Contest

Knowing first hand what a disease can put you through has made Stephanie's desire to help others who are sick grow stronger. As a fighter, and more importantly, as a survivor, her strength doesn't solely come from being optimistic. "First, you have to have faith," she said. "Then, you have to be strong, even when you feel weak. And finally, you have to talk about it. Having a great support system is key."

Her optimistic disposition even impacted the name of her car. "Felicity is a synonym for joy, and I wanted to name the car Felicity because of all the joy I have felt from winning and the joy I experience every time I look at her," she said. "She even has her own Facebook page, Felicity Flood, so people can see what she's up to."

Along with the great feeling Felicity brings, Stephanie loves all of her features. "I love the color, and all the lights, and how I can pump the height of the seat up," she said. "I love the ESP, which has come in handy in storms, and it's also nice to have a CD player." But there's one main attraction that puts a big smile on Stephanie's face: punch bug. "I laugh when I see other people glancing at Felicity and punching someone else in their car," she said. "I'm part of a constant game!"

Winning the LoveBug2 Contest has also given Stephanie a positive outlook on the future. Having recently graduated from Northern Illinois University, Felicity has helped Stephanie get to job interviews and has given her the opportunity to travel. "I want to visit all 50 states and all the people who helped me win the car," she said. And she knows these experiences wouldn't be possible without the LoveBug2 Contest. "The team at Fox Valley Volkswagen is superb, and I will be reminded of their generosity every time I look at or talk about Felicity," she said. "I think it's an amazing thing they're doing, and I hope they continue to bless others in the future."