Higher-mileage cars the ticket at Baltimore auto show -- Gazette.Net


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Cars that get better mileage, including electric vehicles, are among the hot trends running through the annual Motor Trend International Auto Show-Baltimore.

“The hybrids are drawing a lot of attention,” said Peter Kitzmiller, president of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, which is helping coordinate the show along with producer Motor Trend Auto Shows. The event runs through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

“Many people want vehicles that get better fuel efficiency,” Kitzmiller said.

The Toyota Prius led all hybrid sales nationally last year, rising 73 percent from 2011 to about 240,000 vehicles in 2012, according to research firm Autodata.

Among all-electric cars, the Chevy Volt from General Motors was the leader, with national sales more than doubling last year to some 23,500.

Crowd traffic at the Baltimore show was heavy on opening day Thursday, said Shelbi Okumura, a spokeswoman for the show. Exact attendance figures are not released, she said.

The Baltimore show is featuring more ride and drive opportunities this year, Kitzmiller said. Areas are set up outside the convention center to allow consumers to drive vehicles, and there are some courses inside, including a 35-degree hill for drivers to navigate a jeep.

The Baltimore show will feature appearances by Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Terrence Cody and World Wrestling Entertainment star Wade Barrett on Friday evening and by former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Larry Sheets on Saturday. Sunday is family day with appearances by comic book and movie characters including Spiderman and Captain America.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Washington Auto Show ends Sunday

The Washington Auto Show, which features many Maryland dealers and exhibitors along with more than 700 vehicles, started Feb. 1 and ends Sunday at the Washington Convention Center.

Celebrity appearances include Olympic champion gymnast Gabrielle Douglas on Friday and Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon on Saturday. The event is produced by the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.

Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The number of new vehicles sold in Maryland increased by 10 percent in 2012 from 2011, according to figures from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. As they did in 2011, used-car sales showed little year-over-year growth in 2012.

The value of both new and used sales increased, by 11 percent to $9.3 billion for new vehicles and by 5 percent to $5.6 billion for used vehicles.

Nationally, auto sales in January rose by 14 percent from a year ago, according to Autodata. Figures for Maryland last month were not available.

kshay@gazette.net