Philly Auto Show shows the future is electric

Visitors cannot buy cars directly at the Auto Show, but Pacifico says about 90% of visitors come to the show looking for their next car.

Rich Terrell, the regional sales operations manager for Ford Motors, said a record number of people are ordering cars directly from the factory, because they cannot find a wide selection on the lot.

“It is at the lowest levels that we’ve seen in recent history,” said Terrell. “What we are finding is consumers are custom-building orders from production at the highest rates we’ve ever seen in the company’s history. As a result, you’re getting the vehicle that you want custom built for future production, rather than the old business model, which is we build a model, we send it to the dealer, and you accept that vehicle from dealer stock.”

1 Philly Auto Show shows the future is electric
Ford Sales Operations Manager Rich Terrell buckles up for a ride in a Mustang Mach-E at the Philadelphia Auto Show. New this year is a 50,000-square-foot track where visitors can ride in the latest electric vehicles. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The big push this year is electric cars. The Auto Show is debuting the E-Track, a 50,000 square foot open space dominating one side of the main hall where new electric cars are available for test rides.

The car industry estimates that in five years, about 30% of all cars sold will be electric cars, but Terrell said many people are still skeptical of e-vehicles because they’ve never been in one.

“This is an opportunity to actually experience what it’s like to be in an electric vehicle,” he said, belting himself into a Mach-E four-door sedan. “The torque, the power is actually improved over a gas powered engine.”

Terrell proved his point by flooring the car with me in the passenger seat. The sudden and intense acceleration felt like a roller coaster.

It caused this reporter to involuntarily yelp.

“The vehicle itself has incredible acceleration as a result of the electric powertrain,” he said, mercifully slowing into a u-turn.

2 Philly Auto Show shows the future is electric
A 2023 Mustang Mach-E makes its way around the 50,000-square-foot electric vehicle track at the Philadelphia Auto Show. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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