Indy Auto Show excites consumers with technology


The time to beat was one minute and 26 seconds at the Indianapolis Auto Show on Saturday.

The time belongs to Josh Hamilton, a Ford Motor representative at the event. Hamilton was running the automaker’s 2016 Ford GT Mustang simulator. Individuals could race the $80,000 machine that rotates left, right, up and down with each maneuver they made on the virtual version of Germany’s Nurburgring race track.

Ford also had a talking robot named Hank, gift giveaways and representatives greeting potential customer — all in the name of  engagement. Along with Ford, more than two dozen other auto divisions were trying to attract potential car-buyers and enthusiasts at the Indiana Convention Center.

Hamilton said he gets about 1,000 people to ride the simulator during a three-day auto show. At this six-day event, he expects that number to double. The Ford representative said the company wants to draw people in and, using technological advances like the Mustang simulator and Hank, the talking robot, help make customers comfortable.

“It’s something new for us to show besides putting butts in seats,” Hamilton said. “It gives everybody something different to do and have fun.”

Sam Douglas, 29, agreed it was a fun ride. His simulator time was 1:43.

The Brownsburg resident says he is “Chevy-through-and-through,”  but walked around the Ford exhibit and drove the simulator.

“It looks cool,” he said. “I think it’ll help draw the crowd in. It gets people around the products.”

Douglas said he was thinking about buying a new car and attended the auto show, which concludes Friday, to see what would be available in the coming year.

Ford wasn’t the only company to use perks and special effects to draw consumers in. Hyundai boasted a smaller driver simulator, free gifts, a trophy case of awards and a guest lounge area.

Scott Landgraf, district sales manager for Kia Motors, said this was his first auto show in years, but said he knows customers want to be engaged with car companies without feeling pressured into immediately buying a vehicle.

“(It allows them to) peruse a lot of different cars and compare them,” Landgraf said. “It can be hard at a dealership to compare different cars.”

The Kia rep said he’s seen more technology at this year’s show than previous years. The exhibit included their newest models as well as a green screen for participants to take photos with Kia’s hamster mascots.

A 30-foot-wide platform in the center of the exhibit spotlighted a 2016 KiA Optima SXL Sport Limited, while more of the latest models with the flashiest features faced the outer edges of the area. Customers also were informed of current deals and specials if they chose to go to a local dealer to purchase a car.

“More technology, I think, is the big thing,” he said. “I see more screens. I see more interaction.”