The Chicago Auto Show is billed as America’s largest and when it opens to the public on Feb. 9, it’ll be just that.

Featuring more than 1,000 vehicles spread out over 1.3 million square feet of exhibit space inside the sprawling lakefront McCormick Place complex, the Chicago show allows automakers to showcase their biggest exhibits ever.

The space is so large that one auto company (DaimlerChrysler) even features an indoor test track complete with hills and a stream as part of its exhibit. The exhibit of Ford’s global brands, including Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin, takes up 160,000 square feet alone.

Several automakers will debut new models at the show and Ford will spotlight several of its 2008 models – the new Ford Escape, Ford Focus, Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle, as well as the 2008 Mercury Montego.

Ford to spotlight 2008 models at Chicago Auto Show
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Three Ford concept cars – the Ford Airstream, the Ford Interceptor and the Lincoln MKR – will also be shown.

The show’s two-day media preview begins Wednesday with a breakfast speech by Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, at 9:30 a.m. EST. Fields will also preview for employees an announcement Ford is making at the show during his regular weekly Way Forward Webcast Wednesday from 9:45 – 10 a.m. EST.

That will be followed by a 11:45 a.m. EST press conference by Cisco Codina, Ford’s group vice president for North America marketing, sales and service. Codina’s press conference will be Webcast live.

At the Chicago show, several domestic and foreign competitors will be revealing special editions of their vehicles and showing freshened models for 2008.

As with the North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit, the Chicago show begins with the media previews followed by a huge charity event the night before the show opens to the public.

Ford to spotlight 2008 models at Chicago Auto Show
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Running through Feb. 18, the show is sponsored by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the nation’s oldest and largest metropolitan dealer organization.

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