Auto shows are still in a strong position to benefit from communication of the "Power of Auto Shows" study that was funded by Auto Shows of North America members and released last summer.
"This is definitely an ongoing opportunity for solid messaging that will benefit every auto show, large or small," says Joe Rohatynski, who manages public relations for ASNA and helped coordinate the Foresight Research
A key component of the study showed the connection between consumers and auto shows.
And while media across the country received the initial press release on the study, the opportunity remains for individual shows to use the results in one-on-one discussions with local media in their own market.
"This is the kind of news to which media is very receptive," said Rohatynski. “The standard economics question is ‘do auto shows help market new vehicles?’ and the answer is yes. We have a positive story to tell with auto shows, in large and smaller markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. With 'The Power of Auto Shows' study, we have conclusive, economic evidence that auto shows are worth the investment by dealer groups and manufacturers."
Rohatynski said he’s seen evidence that ASNA members have increasingly been using the study as the 2015-2016 show season gains momentum.
After years of dealing with crises and rebuilding, Toyota is shifting into expansion mode, the firm's president told Automotive News
. Akio Toyoda, 59, talked about planned alliances with BMW and Mazda, highlighting what Toyota brings to the relationships (in the case of BMW, Toyota will benefit from the German automaker's expertise in motorsports, trading its own fuel cell technology superiority, says Toyoda). The automaker's president also talked about strategy involving Lexus (don't plan on seeing a 7-seater SUV anytime soon) and positioning ("For Toyota, I attach greater value to family, convenience, fun-to-drive.").
A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
has concluded that self-driving cars are more likely to be involved in a crash—five times more likely it would seem—although the fine print makes an important qualification: humans, not the robotic cars, are mostly to blame. And even though self-driving vehicles had 9.1 crashes per million miles (compared with 1.9 for regular vehicles), there were no fatalities, something humans can't compete with from a study standpoint. There's also the sheer volume of data to consider, say researchers. Self-driving cars are still too new and few to compare with any degree of certainty. In the study, they were comparing just 50 self-driving cars with a total of 1.2 million miles with a larger sample of 269 million regular vehicles that had logged a total of 3 TRILLION miles.
An automotive security software firm says responsibility for updating security software in a vehicle may evolve over time to the point where if owners don't take advantage of the service they would be considered liable for any issues. Such a movement to shift liability for hacking to consumers is already underway in the banking industry, according to at least one report. In the interim, banking and credit card companies have been paying out settlements for data breaches. But those companies are starting to fight back.
Under a yet-to-be-ratified Trans Pacific Partnership, the auto industry in Canada and the U.S. would face dramatically different phase-out rules as far as tariffs from Japan and Korea. Ford of Canada CEO Dianne Craig
, who holds a position largely focused on sales and marketing, told a Canadian newspaper that the trade deal was a "setback" given the much quicker phasing out of tariffs for Japanese automakers—five years in Canada versus 25 years negotiated with the U.S. That move is said to be related to a deal Canada negotiated separately with Korea that had tariffs drop at a steeper rate.
Hyundai, the South Korean-based automaker that also owns Kia, is no longer the only major industry player without a luxury brand. That changed in early November with the company announcing it has launched Genesis as its premium badge. Said to be part of a strategy to boost earnings and Hyundai's share of the fast-growing global market for luxury vehicles, Genesis begins with two sedans, the namesake upscale model it launched two years ago and a large sedan expected to be revealed next month. Four more models, including a sports coupe and SUV, will come by 2020, the company said. A key reason for the move, coming at a difficult financial time for Hyundai (its latest quarterly profit was the lowest in five years), is how luxury brands set technology and design trends, even though their market share accounts for just 10 percent of global sales. Hyundai has hired Luc Donckerwolke
, former chief designer at Bentley, to work on Genesis models as well as Hyundai cars.
Regulators in Canada and in the U.S. are reportedly expanding their on-the-road emissions tests, citing concerns that cheating on vehicle emissions could be prevalent across the industry. The tests are being done randomly and in real-world conditions. "We are very anxious to find out if there are any other programs out there," said Christopher Grundler
, director of the office of transportation and air quality at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has said it has found the cheating software on about 10,000 VW, Audi and Porsche models not previously disclosed by the company. VW is disputing the claim.
The co-founder of Apple once considered the development of an Apple Car, as recently as 2008. Reports of what might have been (and what might still occur) came from an interview by Bloomberg TV with Tony Fadell, a former senior vice president at Apple. It was not long after the introduction of the iPhone that the conversations occurred. Fadell said he remembers talking with Jobs about the potential for an "iCar." The pair are said to have posed hypothetical questions, according to the Bloomberg report.
Understanding the true economic impact of an auto show can be among the most powerful tools available to a dealer group.
Just ask ATAE John Sackrison
, executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association, which runs the Orange County International Auto Show.
"Orange County accounts for more vehicles sold than half the states in the U.S.," he points out. "That's a story that we're constantly telling our audience."
And quite an audience that is. As one of the first shows in the season, Orange County (under Sackrison's leadership) is seeing some fruits of an effort to have manufacturers commit early to bringing some of their new offerings to the event.
Last year, for example, when the show convinced Kia to bring its GT4 Stinger concept (and then leveraged that news in its pre and show promotions), Sackrison and his team were able to convince other automakers to do the same.
That translated into three concept vehicles brought to this year's show—Toyota's FT-1, the Lincoln Continental, and the Hyundai Santa Cruz.
'They (Camp Jeep) always do an amazing job engaging the consumer and demonstrating the vehicle’s impressive off-road capabilities.'
- ATAE John Sackrison
Toyota and Hyundai both gave about six months' advance notice that they would be bringing their vehicles (the Lincoln commitment came closer to the show).
Armed with the good news, the auto show team went to work, incorporating the announcements into its advertising plan, including a special section of the Orange County Register
, published the week before the auto show.
"It was huge," says Sackrison of the impact the featured vehicles had on the show. "The news was in all our broadcast advertising and we even had them featured on our tickets."
Sackrison says the investment automakers make in bringing concepts to the auto show is reciprocated in part through that pre-show advertising and promotion.
Other show highlights included building a uniquely decorated area—a hall within a hall—for exotics, among them vehicles by Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, and Bentley as well as a number of choice offerings from DuPont Registry, a feature made possible through the partnership established by Motor Trend Auto Shows.
Camp Jeep was once again at the Orange County International Auto Show, something Sackrison says continues to be a crowd favorite. "They always do an amazing job engaging the consumer and demonstrating the vehicle’s impressive off-road capabilities," adds Sackrison.
Another show highlight was reflected in a continuing partnership with school students and the organizations they represent, an initiative that Sackrison says continues to benefit school programs while building good public relations for area auto dealers.
In that program, students are able to sell tickets to the auto show, with 100 percent of the ticket price ultimately going back to the groups. Checks are then presented to those groups by a local auto dealer.
This year, that amounts to more than $60,000. Students have used the auto show ticket sales to raise some $250,000 since the program began.
Dealers have also built an e-mail database that offers a free weekday ticket that can be downloaded and redeemed as a "buy one, get one free" weekend pass, something Sackrison says ultimately makes sense in that it drives higher attendance.
"And if it's a free ticket, knowing it comes from their local dealer is also a big plus overall."
Profile: Orange County International Auto Show
Oct. 15-18, 2015
Anaheim Convention Center
525,000 square feet
$12 adults, $10 for Seniors, $10 for Military and kids 12 and under are free
Thursday, 4 pm-10 pm; Friday, noon-10 pm; Saturday, 9 am-10 pm; Sunday, 9 am-7 pm.
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE John Sackrison
Orange County Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE Peter Hodges
, not unlike virtually every other executive with responsibility for an auto show, is one busy guy—with three shows for which he's responsible, including one that draws from one of the busiest state fairs in the country.
It's that show (the others Hodges oversees are the Oklahoma City International Auto Show in March, and the Tulsa Auto Show in April) that typically attracts between 900,000 and 1 million visitors, many of them taking in what might be considered a smaller but still very popular auto show component.
And making sure that event runs smoothly, in essence integrating it into the State Fair environment, is an early auto show season responsibility of Hodges.
'We had a strong crowd and one of the interesting things was that we found out just how popular the auto show component of the State Fair is to people.'
- ATAE Peter Hodges
This year's event was somewhat complicated in the sense that the building that is normally used for that purpose is no longer in existence, a planned replacement project that Hodges has known about for some time.
But there's the "knowing" and the "experiencing"—two different things altogether.
You could hear it in Hodges voice, perhaps him re-living it even while telling the story, perhaps the relief that this one-year aberration will be wiped from his memory.
"It was a strong show," he says. "We had a strong crowd and one of the interesting things was that we found out just how popular the auto show component of the State Fair is to people. So many people kept asking where we were that the State Fair people had to install extra signs all over the place to direct them to our new area."
Actually two new areas, albeit temporary ones, outdoors.
"We were in two separate areas, both in heavy traffic areas, and that really helped our visibility," says Hodges. "But it always rains," he says, pausing for a moment. "It never doesn't
While some of the exhibitors had at least part of their displays covered by tents, no one isn't looking forward to the show's new home: a completely new space that's twice as large as the building it is replacing.
"We'll be the dominant feature inside that new building," notes Hodges.
Profile: Auto Show at Oklahoma State Fair
September 17-27, 2015
Oklahoma State Fair Park
60,000 gross sq. ft.
Free with State Fair admission.
Sunday-Thursday 10 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday 10 am to 10 pm
Metropolitan Auto Dealers Association
Show Website (State Fair):
Here's the thing about continuing to improve an already outstanding auto show, especially in an economic environment that's healthy, vibrant and robust.
You still have to work at it.
For ATAE Stacey Castle
, executive director of the Greater Sacramento New Car Dealers Association and producer of the Sacramento International Auto Show, the results almost speak for themselves.
'It was one of the best shows we've ever had, really an amazing event.'
- ATAE Stacey Castle
"We really don't take anything for granted," said Castle, who spoke to The Auto Show Report just a few days after the show wrapped up. "But what we did this year that was different from last year, for example, was expand our outdoor advertising presence—more billboards in particular and in the public's eye earlier than we have done in the past."
That strategy seems to have worked well, says Castle.
"It was one of the best shows we've ever had, really an amazing event."
Even in California, weather can impact auto show attendance. And, since Sacramento experienced some stormy weather, Castle surmised that people who might otherwise have opted for outdoor action, found appeal at the indoor auto show.
"The crowds were really strong all three days," says Castle.
Even so, mixing things up at the show itself was seen to fuel consumer interest, with the local electric company—the publicly owned Sacramento Municipal Utility District
—teaming up with makers of electric vehicles to showcase those in a Ride and Drive.
That was on top of various Ride and Drive opportunities that included the full line of Chrysler vehicles as well as those from Ford and Toyota.
Castle says the Sacramento show has continued to distinguish itself by focusing on its ongoing contributions to various local charities, something that she and her staff continue to use as a media hook.
"The media loves it when we remind them and, by extension, their readers and viewers, that we typically raise $500,000 or more at every show," says Castle. "We're one of the few non-profit shows in the country."
Among the local charities benefitting from that partnership with the Sacramento International Auto Show are the Shriners
(through a $1-million endowment), the Make-a-Wish Foundation
, Ronald McDonald House
, Wounded Warriors
and a number of other local charities that have received support over the years.
It's a show that also takes the presence of families seriously, highlighted on Sunday.
"We have a very robust Family Day that is really heartwarming to experience," says Castle. Attendance for children under 16 is free, with break areas strategically located in a way that ends up encouraging families to stay as long as they want, thereby extending the time their parents are in front of the vehicles they'll ultimately drive home one day.
"I heard one little girl telling her parents 'I don't want to go home,'" adds Castle. "When we hear things like that, we know we've done our job."
Profile: Sacramento International Auto Show
Oct. 16-18, 2015
Cal Expo, Sacramento
275,000 square feet under roof; 800,000 outside space
$13 adults, children 7 and under free
Fri: 10 am-9 pm; Sat: 10 am-8 pm; Sun: 10 am-6 pm
Castle Communications, Inc.
Show Web site:
In all honesty, ATAE Vicki Giles Fabré
, executive director of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association, didn't know precisely what to expect from her first experience with the Seattle international Auto Show, having merged earlier this year with the dealer group that had self-produced the event for many years.
What Fabré does say now is that the decision to work with Motor Trend Auto Shows was the right one.
"It really turned out to be a smooth experience, one that was very easy from our perspective," says Fabré. "They met all our expectations in terms of planning, budget and working with manufacturers. It ran very smoothly."
'We had a very good response from dealers, sponsors and manufacturers, almost immediately
after the show . . . '
- ATAE Vicki Giles Fabré
As with any show, there will always be room for improvement, and Fabré says following the early October event, there is already a list of areas the dealer group and Motor Trend officials will be dealing with for next year.
But in the meantime, Fabré says she's gratified with the immediate response to this year's show.
"We had a very good response from dealers, sponsors and manufacturers, almost immediately after the show, that indicated they were very pleased with what they saw, particularly the look and feel of the show," she says.
One of the common themes throughout was the showcase of various advanced technologies now available in the typical vehicle.
"Those technologies now cross all makes and models and it's something our visitors were definitely there to see," says Fabré. "They weren't disappointed."
Show highlights that included a Kids Ride and Drive served as motivation for families to come to the show, she says.
There was also an outdoor zip line installed for even further fun. "It was something we had wanted to do on the show floor," says Fabré. "But that was an idea that was almost instantly discarded because of the height. It did turn out to be a lot of fun though, even outdoors!"
Profile: Seattle International Auto Show
Oct. 8-11, 2015
CenturyLink Field Event Center
240,000 square feet
$15, adults; $12, seniors and military; children 12 and under FREE, seniors, $12. Show has a number of discount ticket opportunities.
Thursday, 2 pm-9 pm; Friday, noon-9 pm; Saturday, 9 am-9 pm; Sunday, 9 am-7 pm.
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Vicki Giles Fabré
Executive Director, Washington State Auto Dealers Association
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director