Car enthusiasts and potential buyers flock to Washington Auto Show

After a sneak-peek for the press and policy makers this week, the Washington Auto Show is finally open to the public.

Hundreds of car enthusiasts and their families browsed the two-floor show, examining the latest models from the industry’s largest automakers.

Sandra Ragusa, a Los Angeles-transplant living in Montgomery Village has been attending the show for the past three years. “I’m a Californian. We’re crazy about cars,” she said.

Ragusa recently bought an Audi A8, and checked online before the first day of the show to see which Audi models would be displayed. But she said once she arrived, she was particularly drawn to the Chevy Malibu and Impala because of their outward appearance.

“Being a woman, you look at the style and design, and then you open the hood,” she said. She plans to come back in a week once she’s narrowed down which her favorite cars are after the first day, so she can spend more time looking at them, though she doesn’t plan to buy another car for five or six years.

But she said she’d expected the show to place greater emphasis on affordable electric and hybrid cars, instead of higher-end models, she said, since in some cases the technology is a decade old.

Chesapeake Beach resident Mark Intihar was examining a 2013 Jeep Compass, which he’s thinking of buying. He hadn’t considered it until he arrived at the autoshow on Friday, but realized he needed to replace his Toyota Yaris on which he’s racked up over 150,000 miles.

“It’s a neat car,” Intihar said from the Compass’ driver’s seat. “It’s American — that’s what I wanted in my next vehicle. It has a lot of room, and great gas milage.”

Intihar said he isn’t considering electric or hybrid vehicles because they generally “run more than I want to pay,” he said, adding, “it’s sad about the Chevy Volt. It’s designed for the upcoming family, but the upcoming family can’t afford it. (The 2013 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid car, starts at around $31,000.)

Fairfax resident Tad Tuliszka came to the show specifically to see electric cars. He’s been interested in the technology since it emerged around 2005, but has only recently started seeing it on the road. He spent several minutes looking at the Volt, which he said was “interesting”, but the “price is a turnoff.”

He also said was more interested in “100 percent” electric cars — not hybrids like the Volt — and would consider buying the fully-electric Nissan Leaf instead, to complement the Nissan Sentra and Maxima he has at home.

For full coverage of the Washington Auto Show, check out The Grid.

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. She joined the Washington Post after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and has interned for Business Insider and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a native of Pittsburgh.
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