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Every brand of vehicle sold in state showcased at auto show

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Organizers say there's something for everyone at the 2013 West Virginia International Auto Show.

"I don't think we've ever had so much for the whole family to see," said show organizer Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association.

Doors open at 10 a.m. today for the auto show, which runs through Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center.

About 300 vehicles fill nearly 120,000 square feet of display space throughout the complex. 

Every brand sold in West Virginia will be represented at the show. In addition to 2013 models, the show will feature demo units from the upcoming 2014 model year as well as some vintage cars.

In addition to vehicles, there is also a race simulator, tractor-trailer safety display and the comic-bot King Robota, which will put on special performances for kids at 7 p.m. Friday, between noon and 7 p.m. Saturday and noon and 5 p.m. Sunday.

About 400 people got a special preview Thursday night during the show's annual fundraising gala to benefit Hospice Care. Two bands and a jazz pianist entertained the crowd as they milled about the pristine vehicles.

House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, and his wife, Beth, were spotted checking out several Dodge vehicles on display.

New state Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, was interested in some of the new amenities offered on 2013 Ford models.

State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, peered over the stickers on a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid. And new Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and several members of his staff shared a long chat with House Finance Committee chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo.

White most of the high-end vehicles — Lexuses, Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMWs — are upstairs in the "Luxury Loft," but there was one luxury treat awaiting crowds downstairs near the entrance: A $103,875 2013 Jaguar XKR Coupe.

The show also features several alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid model Fords, Chevrolets, Toyotas and Volkswagens.

Local company Kanawha Converts also has a display of two natural-gas powered Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles to help educate consumers on the benefits of natural gas-powered cars.

The show features cars equipped with some of the latest technology automakers are incorporating into vehicles.

Organizers say 2013 is the year of the "connected car," with drivers able to integrate their smartphones and iPads into the vehicle's drive and infotainment systems.

"The new technology is just phenomenal," Lemmon said.

"From the safety features to all of the technology — it's just beyond belief," she said.

"It's kind of like the Jetsons — though our cars may not be in the skies, they have all the other technology inside," Lemmon said.

Smith Company Motor Cars Chairman Jed Smith said today's vehicles have come a long way since Volvo first introduced the three-point shoulder harness in 1959.

"The technology for safety in cars is far beyond what I would have ever dreamed," Smith said. "It used to be you only had all of the high technology in luxury cars, but now it's in the entry-level cars."

He said the big push in the coming year is for autonomous driving — cars that literally drive themselves. 

Smith said current vehicles with autonomous driving features can maneuver themselves within 45-degree angles while the cruise control is set. They will also make automatic changes if they sense an imminent collision. 

"If it senses a collision coming, within a fraction of a second it closes the sunroof and windows, tightens the seatbelts and prepares the airbags — all within a fraction of a second," Smith said.

The auto show opens at 10 a.m. each day and closes at 9 p.m. today and Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Daily Mail will conduct a special Auto Show live blog beginning at 10:30 a.m. today. Organizers will be available to take questions about the latest model cars and discuss some of the things people will find at this year's auto show.

You can access the live blog on the Daily Mail Reporter's Pad blog at http://blogs.

dailymail.com/reporterspad.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.hunt@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/JaredWV


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