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A green theme and more at annual auto show

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Sports cars. Luxury cars. SUVs.

They’ll all be on display at the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show this week, but there also will be a decided emphasis on green.

The 16th annual auto show – Thursday through Sunday at Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus in Bethlehem – is organized by the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association. The show will feature scores of the sleekest, sharpest and most desirable vehicles of the year, whetting the appetite of consumers as well as dealers looking to fill their lots.

As for going green, the show has launched a green passport contest showcasing the latest and best in environmentally friendly vehicles. This passport allows you to see the new line of eco-friendly cars and offers a chance to win prizes.

“As you enter, you will be given a show guide map,” said Tom Kwiatek, GLVADA executive director. “And when you go to the places with the green balloons, people will stamp your map, then you bring it back and you will be included in a raffle to win either an iPad or other prizes.”

Green vehicles are getting more attention. Green technology on display will include fully electric cars, the latest hybrids including plug-in hybrids, turbo-diesels and more.

“The 35 mpg fuel economy and hybrid gas and electric will be among the 19-20 green vehicles that will be presented,” Kwiatek said, noting that a vehicle must be in the 35 to 40-plus miles per gallon range to be considered green.

“[Owning] hybrid cars is still a novelty and is more expensive,” he said, “but the star in pricing is the Toyota Prius” – which will be presented at the show.

While the green vehicles, as well as the other vehicles, are not for sale at the show, dealers are looking forward to the show, too, and seeing what will be on their lot this year.

“In many cases [the show] gets them first, then months later they go on sale,” Kwiatek said.

Besides the cars, the show will feature motorcycles, RVs and a Kid’s Zone.

New this year, the show will offer a Harley-Davidson showcase, featuring custom, cruiser and touring Harleys. The RV showcase will present new technology from leading brands.

As for the Kid’s Zone, this one-day event on Saturday will allow children to test the skills of a robotic simulator – the same type of system used by Lehigh Valley Health Network robotic surgeons.

Children also will be able to experience a driving simulator that illustrates the dangers of distracted driving. There also will be safety tips on bicycling and skateboarding.

The event kicks off on March 20 with the annual preview party gala at Stabler Arena, and this year proceeds go to Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Gala tickets — $75 apiece, $125 for couples — are available at www.glvautoshow.org/gala.

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