Auto Show features King Robota
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: West Virginia International Auto Show
WHERE: Charleston Civic Center
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan 26
HOW MUCH: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children ages 7 to 12, free for children ages 6 and under
MORE INFO: www.WestVirginiaAutoShow.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The newest feature at the 2013 West Virginia International Auto Show is made entirely of recycled auto parts. It plays music, flashes lights, is sponsored by Ford and can be enjoyed by all ages.
But it isn't an automobile.
King Robota is an 8-foot robot that walks, talks and performs.
And it is "mesmerizing," said DeeDee Taft, spokeswoman for the auto show.
"You should come just to see King Robota. This is crazy and cool," Taft said. "It looks like a transformer. He talks, interacts with guests and poses with photos with them. You'll be at the auto show and all of a sudden it will come out and blast this music."
Organizers have tried to bring King Robota to the West Virginia International Auto Show for years, said Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, the show's chief organizer.
The auto show is scheduled to run Jan. 25 through 27 at the Charleston Civic Center. King Robota will perform for auto show attendees between noon and 7 p.m., Saturday and noon and 5 p.m., Sunday.
As a true robot, King Robota doesn't have a human being inside him, but he does have assistants walking along with him, Taft said.
The robot has showed its futuristic, hi-tech talents at other auto shows, corporate events, fairs and festivals worldwide.
Bringing King Robota to the auto show is another way to welcome everyone, provide entertainment and educate attendees, Lemmon said.
Also making its first appearance at the auto show in the state's capital this year is the Sony a77 Studio. The interactive green screen technology -- powered by Amazon.com -- puts adults and kids behind the wheels of the world's fastest sports cars.
Families can smile wide as their picture is taken "sitting" in a Lamborghini, Maserati or Ferrari. The picture is then emailed to them so they can have a fun, appropriately themed digital keepsake, Lemmon said.
"Our purpose of the auto show is two-fold. Number one is to bring the latest technology and latest vehicles to the buying public," Lemmon said. "But secondly, not to just have it 'tires on rugs', we want to show all the various things the automobiles can bring to you as it relates to entertainment. That's where the Sony a77 Studio and robot come in."
The auto show presents new products but is also family entertainment, she said.
That's why the show welcomes all children 12 and under for free on Family Day, Sun. Jan. 27, she said. Children ages 6 and under are admitted free everyday of the show.
"We let the children get in the vehicles and enjoy those experiences," Lemmon said.
The auto show allows people to get an up-close look at new vehicles, including the 2013 Chevrolet Spark, Dodge Dart, Ford C-MAX, Lincoln MKZ, Subaru XV Crosstrek and Toyota Prius c.
Pre-production models, such as the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado -- which isn't available for sale until summer -- also will be on display.
"The Silverado is the newest truck on the market and we're going to see it at the auto show, which is very exciting," said Wally Thornhill, co-chairman of the auto show. "Very few shows our size get this truck."
Thornhill, who owns the Thornhill Superstore auto dealerships in Chapmanville and South Charleston, said car dealers look forward to the state's auto show. People come in from places like Pittsburgh and Atlanta, which has a tremendous economic impact on Charleston, he said.
"We, as car dealers in the state, kind of kick the season off with the show. We offer sales and some manufacturers give specials or rebates for the weeks around the auto show," Thornhill said. "This is an excellent opportunity to showcase to people who might not otherwise ever come to West Virginia and really put our best foot forward. West Virginians love their vehicles."
But Lemmon stressed that the auto show is a "non-selling environment."
For people who want try out a variety of automobiles, the Ford "ride and drive" allows them to test drive several new models such as the 2013 Fusion, Escape, F-150, Focus and more.
At the top of the escalators of the Civic Center, car buffs can explore the 15,000-square-foot "luxury loft" to check out imports from Audi, Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.
High-end exotic vehicles -- Ashton Martin, Ferrari and Maserati -- will also be on display.
Tickets purchased at www.WestVirginiaAutoShow.com come with a $1 discount off regular adult admission. Visitors will also receive a free one-year subscription to Motor Trend magazine.
Reach Megan Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5113.