, this year's chair of Auto Shows of North America, a committee of Automotive Trade Association Executives, says the just-completed Summer Meeting in Colorado Springs was one of the most successful he's seen in recent years.
"It was a great meeting," said Gempp, who runs the Philadelphia Auto Show under the direction of ATAE Kevin Mazzucola
. "We've had lots of positive feedback already and it's our intention to build on that success going forward."
Gempp said the Summer Meeting had both great speakers and great interaction on issues of importance.
Specific topics that were discussed included a redesign and refunctioning of the ASNA website, acknowledging that the site needs to reflect what various ATAE members expect and need when it comes to information sharing.
"I look at it as a digital chain of sorts, where one link will connect to another, and the website is probably one of the first links in that chain," said Gempp. "I believe we've secured a consensus, which was an important part of that decision-making process, to begin that redesign project."
Gempp gave kudos to ATAE Rod Alberts
, one of the founders of the ASNA group, who will be taking on the role of chair for 2018, for his role in redesigning the roundtable sessions at this year's Summer Meeting.
"Rod was able to come up with a format that really addressed some of the issues that existed, specifically sessions that were too large and too impersonal," said Gempp.
"Having smaller roundtables and implementing a 10-15 minute rotation provided a much more intimate environment for our attendees to share about events. We discussed issues of mutual interest, the challenges we experience as show managers and even things that went well from our individual perspective," he added.
There is, Gempp said, an expectation that next year's Summer Meeting will be even stronger.
From a directional standpoint, Gempp is confident that ASNA will continue to grow and prosper.
"This is a great time to be involved in the auto show industry and I'm looking forward, as I know many of my colleagues are, to seeing those changes come to fruition, on a step-by-step basis."
BMW's announcement that it plans to upgrade a suite of features—now called "BMW Connected +"—signals a commitment by the company and Dieter May
, head of digital products and Industry Services for BMW AG. A story by Paul Eisenstein
reported on some of the features the automaker plans for its upgrade, including the ability to stream audio from services such as Spotify
, to in-car security systems that can call for help after a crash. BMW also plans to introduce over-the-air updates, said by some observers to be an essential element in an autonomous vehicle eco-system. In making the changes, BMW hopes to boost its loyalty rates, something Eisenstein quotes May as being "worth millions of dollars."
, the battery-electric automaker that is struggling financially, is abandoning plans for a $1 billion assembly plant in Nevada. Construction work has been on hold since last November and legal claims have compounded the issue, as have reports that a court in Shanghai has frozen some of the assets of one of the key backer of Faraday. The company is insisting, however, that it plans to move forward to produce a long-range, high-performance electric vehicle. The FF91 was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show last January. About $120 million has already been invested in the Nevada facility.
The Toyota Research Institute has announced plans to invest $100 million in its launch of Toyota AI Ventures, a subsidiary that would provide early-stage financing to companies involved in so-called "disruptive" technologies. "Toyota has a history of disruptive innovation in the service of mankind," said Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI. The company moved from textile machinery to automobiles in the late 1930s, to the broad electrification of autos with Prius in the 1990s. Now it hopes to do the same with autonomous mobility and human assist robots, said Pratt. The new venture will cultivate select start-ups, focusing on areas such as Artificial Intelligence Robotics Autonomous Mobility and Data and Cloud Technology. The company, recognizing the inherent high risk of investments in early-state companies, is expected to feature quick decision-making by a dedicated management team that would operate separately from TRI's R&D operation.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are said to be poised to introduce legislation that would prevent states from setting their own rules when it comes to self-driving vehicles. The news follows a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on a package of bills that would allow exemption of as many as 100,000 vehicles per manufacturer from federal safety rules that prevent the sale of autonomous vehicles without operating controls. It remains unclear, however, what kind of restrictions would be enacted on those types of "control-free" vehicles, which would be similar to Google's (now defunct) "bubble car."
When you hear about a show that's experienced a 24 percent increase in attendance in one year, the first question is an easy one: what happened?
ATAE Jennifer Whisenant
, who heads the Birmingham Auto Dealers Association and the Alabama Auto Show, has a two-fold answer; both relate to the calendar.
"Last year, there were a lot of things going on in the area, so people had a lot of things to choose from," she said. "And this year, the show was held the weekend after spring break, which meant people had already gone away and that opened the path for us—which was obviously to our benefit."
There's a third reason for the substantial uptick that has more to do with the basic marketing of the show.
"We did some very targeted digital media advertising to auto intenders," says Whisenant. "That really helped—a lot."
Select TV and radio stations were also used to reach that targeted audience.
In the years since Whisenant took the reins at the dealer association, growth has been in her crosshairs.
"We've continued to grow, focusing on ways that we can increase participation in the show and this year we got to the point where the convention center literally could not put one more brand in," said Whisenant. "That also helped draw more attendance, with people knowing that this is the place where they get to see what's in the market."
Now Whisenant has added growth to the convention center itself on her wish list.
"We're looking at ways to do that," she said.
In the meantime, this year's show featured four brands participating in Ride and Drives, including, for the first time, BMW.
Aside from the vehicles themselves, Whisenant and her team arranged to have students from automotive technical schools in the area participate in a "meet and greet" with various dealer principals and service managers, an opportunity for both students and potential employers to engage.
"The schools appreciated the dealers reaching out," she said.
Some students were later involved in a skills display, dismantling and reassembling an engine in a timed demonstration, all to the delight of show goers.
The auto show also featured a Charity Gala—Fueled by Passion—with proceeds going to three organizations: Children's Harbor
, Kid One Transport
, and AG Gaston Boys and Girls Club
Whiseanant also organized, ahead of the show, a business at breakfast networking event, an opportunity that included a complimentary pass to the auto show with admission.
"We recognized that some people would take advantage of the opportunity to attend the show during their lunch hour and that worked out very well."
Profile: Alabama Auto Show, presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union
April 6-9, 2017
Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
220,000 square feet
Adults, $8; Children 14 and under, FREE
Thurs., noon to 9 pm; Friday, 10 am-9 pm; Saturday, 10 am-9 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association
From the perspective of Barbara Pudney
, the veteran Paragon Expo vice president whose role includes producing the Denver Auto Show, the changing landscape in marketing is having a significant impact on auto shows throughout the country.
"You really need to dedicate much more resources to social and online marketing," says Pudney, who organizes the show for ATAE Tim Jackson
of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
And this is not just Pudney's opinion.
"We're finding that everything backs this up," she said. "People are spending less time reading newspapers and watching TV. What we need to do as marketers is reach people on their devices."
Pudney cites online ticket sales—almost one third of total sales at the Denver show—that are mostly (65 percent) being accessed through mobile devices.
At this year's show, organizers featured an element that, if not unique, is still different enough to take note.
"We had a dealer summit associated with the show," said Pudney, an initiative that added a trade component to the public show.
"We saw it as a two-day management education opportunity for dealer principals and managers that occurred concurrently with the show," she added.
The show itself continues its tradition of coming into the Mile High City in one of the biggest possible ways—with a parade.
"We start the Sunday before the show with a Green Car Parade that coincides with the move-in," said Pudney. "We always get news coverage and that helps drive attendance as you might expect."
Indeed, Pudney estimates some 7 million impressions are earned through more than 600 stories and 12 hours of broadcast coverage.
A press day, held with the support of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press
association, also undoubtedly helped with the overall marketing.
Featured at the show was an opening day autograph session with NASCAR driver Joey Gase
, as part of a Donor Alliance initiative. Visitors to the booth could place a "heart stencil" on Gase's race car as indication of their support for organ donation.
Other show features included Camp Jeep, now a tradition at the Denver show but one that still amazes Pudney from the perspective of the long lines generated.
HIspanic Day at the show, sponsored by Telemundo Denver
, featured Spanish music and entertainment, including salsa lessons.
There was also a "drone display" that a local professional company set up, with visitors having the opportunity to take the controls in a special cage set up for that purpose.
And all this during opening day weekend for the Colorado Rockies baseball team.
Profile: Denver Auto Show
April 5-9, 2017
Colorado Convention Center
400,000 square feet
Adults $12, Seniors $6 discounted admission on Thursday, Children (6-12) $6, Children under 6 FREE
Wed., 5 pm to 10 pm; Thurs. noon to 10 pm; Fri., noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Paragon Group, Inc.
When ATAE Dave Rolf
of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association gets on the phone to talk about the First Hawaiian International Auto Show, it's a conversation that's filled with enthusiasm and excitement.
None so much as this year, when the theme of the event was just that: "Start the Excitement."
Rolf, who has a career in media advertising and journalism, understands how important the connection with the media is to generating attendance (which was up three percent over last year's show).
And this year, he was able to experience (for the first time he can recall in Honolulu) a concept car, long wished for (on multiple surveys) but never achieved.
That came to be in the form of KIA's A1A vehicle that Rolf put on the red carpet for show goers to experience.
Named for the Florida coastal highway of the same name, the vehicle "lit up the whole place," said Rolf. "It was encouraging to see a concept like this, especially after so many years of people asking for this type of vehicle at the show."
Rolf said the press was equally enthusiastic, with coverage that went well beyond a 24-page newspaper section published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
, the show's media sponsor.
Other features of this year's show included at least one vehicle from China and several exotics, including models from Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Maserati.
"People were excited to see not only what's available now but what's ahead for the auto industry," said Rolf.
Another perennial highlight was the convention center itself, arguably one of the most beautiful and breathtaking in the nation.
"We have an absolutely beautiful place to showcase the vehicles we bring to the public's attention," said Rolf, referring of course to the Hawaii Convention Center, said to be a "stunning marriage of form and function, open to sky and sun between the shade of terraces and lanais, graced with courtyards, waterfalls and fishponds to create a meetings and convention backdrop that is at once tranquil and invigorating."
And we can't get much better than that.
Profile: First Hawaiian International Auto Show
March 24-26, 2017
Hawai'i Convention Center
200,000 square feet
Adults, $10; Seniors (62 plus), Students, Military, $8; Children 12 and younger, FREE.
Friday, noon-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-7 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
When it came to this season's Pittsburgh International Auto Show, only a storm prevented ATAE John Putzier
from celebrating record attendance.
Even so, some 15 percent more people went through the gates of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
"It was really, for the most part, 'Goldilocks' weather," said Putzier. "Not too cold and not too mild."
Ahead of the public show was the Dancing with the Cars charity preview that raised a record $405,500 for charities connected to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
, an event that is organized by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation and held in July.
At this year's Pittsburgh International Auto Show, organizers continued with an initiative that began about two years ago and which has created something of a niche opportunity to draw crowds that are passionate about seeing unusual automobiles.
"People always want to see concept cars and those that are 'unveiled' for the first time," notes Putzier. "But those are typically limited to much bigger shows."
Thus, the impetus behind Galleria Exotica.
"We pull together a great selection of very rare, very high-end cars," notes Putzier. "This year, our 'headliner' was the Hennessey Venom GT Spyder
, with 1,453 horsepower."
A "plus" was getting Fire Marshall permission to "rev" the engine twice a day. We have a link to a YouTube video of one of those events that's worth the watch. (LINK HERE: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qxlc1rg8fck7ac6/Hennessey%20Rev.mp4?dl=0
Having the Galleria Exotica on the second floor helped to draw crowds who might otherwise have missed all that was included in the special display.
"Word got out we were doing the 'rev' every day at noon and that got people pretty excited. We had big crowds who were cheering on the roar of the engine," said Putzier.
Those big crowds were made a little bigger on Friday when about 500 students took part in a career day, playing "Let's Make a Deal Car Trivia" before heading out on the show floor after learning about the opportunities associated with the automotive industry.
In Pittsburgh, where people are somewhat legendary in their avoidance of parking fees, show organizers continued to get big smiles from teaming up with the Rivers Casino to offer up their facility, with shuttle buses taking them to the convention center.
"We added more buses on the continuous loop," said Putzier. "Almost 25 percent of auto show guests took us up on that offer."
Putzier and a key member of his team, Jill Costic
, who is director of events and member services, were able to sell sponsorships on the shuttle buses, making the effort an even more attractive one for the dealer association.
For Costic, who was celebrating her 40th auto show, things got even better after the event. She and her husband George were sent on a trip to Cancun as a thank you for her years of service.
"The trip to Cancun was amazing and so beautiful," said Costic. "We will be forever grateful for the experience. The auto show has been the biggest part of my life so far, and will be for as long as they will have me!"
Profile: Pittsburgh International Auto Show
Feb. 17-20, 2017
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
330,000 square feet
$12, Adult; $10, Seniors; $10, Military; $6, children (6-16)
Fri.-Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun.-Mon., 10 am-6 pm.
Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE John Putzier|
CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association
The Twin Cities International Auto Show started strong, in what show director Mary Velline
called a "bang-out" weekend.
"We had very strong attendance going into the show and we were feeling really good about it," she said.
And then a good size storm plus competition with St. Patrick's Day slowed things down, the result being a modest one percent increase from last year.
But that didn't mute the enthusiasm of dealers, said Velline, who works with ATAE Scott Lambert
of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association.
"The (sales) push after the show was positive," added Velline.
This show is, in addition to its "two cities" stance (there was a time when the show alternated between calling itself "St. Paul" and "Minneapolis"), is one that is decidedly Midwest in its focus.
"We have a good demographic here from the perspective of vehicle buying," said Velline. "The auto show reflects that. We capitalize on who we are and try to show off the weather and focus on the needs our buyers have throughout the show."
That includes the return of a special feature—a complete second floor of the convention center devoted to trucks and the various scenarios buyers are likely to want to put them through.
In its debut year, Toyota was the exclusive sponsor but this year it was Ram trucks that were front and center.
"It was a huge display," said Velline, who added that the fact that 70 percent of vehicle sales in Minnesota are trucks makes a display like Seasons a big deal indeed.
Velline is still unsure who will sponsor the display in 2018.
Vendors returning to the show include Waldoch
, which does "upfitting" on various brands of trucks, and Automotive Concepts
, a firm that provides a diverse offering of automotive accessories and vehicle customization services.
"Both of those will be back next year," said Velline.
Another feature of the show was the "Electric" room that included all-electric and hybrid vehicles (although a plug-in was required to qualify for the display).
"People are searching for information about electrics and this was a great opportunity to provide them with what they're looking for, even if it's just insights into what might be available down the road," said Velline. "It was fun to watch the crowd."
Profile: Twin Cities Auto Show
March 11-19, 2017
Minneapolis Convention Center
450,000 square feet
$10, Adults; $10; Junior (age 11-15), $5; Children under 10, FREE
Sat.: 10 am-10 pm; Sun.: 10 am-7 pm; Mon., Tues., Thurs.: 4 pm-10 pm; Wed., Fri.: 10 am-10 pm.
Greater Metropolitan Auto Dealers Association of Minnesota, Inc.
Mary Velline, Show Director
When it comes to the Vancouver International Auto Show, a 13 percent increase in attendance and a 25 percent increase in Ride and Drive participation may be just numbers, but there's a story behind the improvements and Jason Heard, the show's executive director, is the one to tell it.
"We have a very good fan base, but it's been through Facebook activations and contesting that we are able to continue to drive eyeballs to the website and to the show," he said. "These initiatives are paying off for us and we're thrilled with the results."
Heard says he can't overemphasize the impact the social media strategy is having, largely because of the ability to directly target specific audiences.
"The engagement that we're seeing is something that we couldn't replicate through traditional media."
At the same time, Heard, who works with ATAE Blair Qualey
at the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia, said help from his partners, including the Laura Ballance Media Group
and the Torch Agency
, both Vancouver based, provided a strong combination of traditional and online media penetration.
"We're obviously pleased with the results and plan to continue to go in that direction and have fun with it," said Heard.
At the show, having exotics and "must see" vehicles, such as a $12-million Ferrari and the Ford GT as just two examples, set the stage for a robust vehicle showcase.
Other examples of vehicles shown were a Darth Vader helmet car and the Bone Shaker, both full scale representations of vehicles popularized by Hot Wheels.
"They really were tons of fun for our visitors," notes Heard.
Also featured this year was a 1937 Cord that brought with it an amazing story
of an armor plated vehicle that was first intended to protect the famed Huey Long, once governor of Louisiana before serving as a senator. Unfortunately, Long was assassinated before the vehicle was delivered.
The vehicle had a fitful history, first being passed to the U.S. Coast Guard, whose leadership used the vehicle for several years, and ultimately being sold to a naval executive who barely had time to drive it before being killed in the Second World War.
Eventually the seemingly "cursed" vehicle found its way into the hands of a Canadian restorer, who, after 30 years, finally saw the project completed.
The 1937 Cord was on public display for the first time at this season's Vancouver International Auto Show.
For his part, Heard says growth plans for the show are in the works.
"We plan to take over the entire Vancouver Convention Centre West next year and ahead of that we'll have 3-D renderings of the new space," he said.
This year, the show was able to host the famed DUB show tour (the only show in Canada to have secured the feature, said Heard).
Heard worked with a company—Pixel Media Communications
that offers live "heat mapping" based on mobile phone technology that can tell where visitors are lingering longest, useful information as any show producer would attest.
Other marketing initiatives include establishing a direct partnership with the automobile club in British Columbia, something that Heard says has become a member benefit through discount admission to the show and a chance to win one of two cars that were given away as part of the show's promotional strategy.
It also gives Heard and his team the opportunity to add to their database for further contact about upcoming shows.
Profile: Vancouver International Auto Show
March 28-April 2 2017
Vancouver Convention Centre West
315,500 square feet
$16 adults (weekday), $18 adults (weekend) $12/$13, seniors, $5-$6, children (7-12); $35/$40, family pass (two adults, two children 12 and under)
Tuesday- 4 pm-10 pm, Wednesday to Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
New Car Dealers Association of BC
Jason Heard, Executive Director
Vancouver International Auto Show
It's not hard to imagine a place like Washington, D.C., the nation's capital and a hub of political activity, being a place where the next generation of automotive technology is discussed in earnest.
That's exactly what occurred at this year's Washington Auto Show, where ATAE John O'Donnell
and his team at the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association introduced MobilityTalks International, a forum designed for governments from around the world to exchange ideas on best practices related to the emerging trends in transportation surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles.
The opportunity, said O'Donnell, was one that started with a recognition that the changing landscape of transportation presents lawmakers and regulators with unique challenges and opportunities that can be more effectively addressed through partnership and collaboration.
"Several groups had asked for a forum of this nature to be put together," said O'Donnell. "These peer-to-peer exchanges are particularly important given the fact that there are, as yet, no real rules for autonomous cars."
At this year's show were representatives of governments from Japan, South Korea and the U.S., with promises from China that they will be represented in 2018.
"We also hope to have Germany and France next year and there is talk about others joining the conversation as well," said O'Donnell.
Also looking to next year, Tata, the Indian automaker that includes Jaguar Land Rover in its line-up of brands, is expected to take a 100,000-square-foot space at the show.
And that's at a show that is pretty much jam packed at 750,000 square feet.
Extending to three levels of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the first time, the show featured a display from Automotive Rhythms
, a trend-setting urban automotive media group that brought in four different "car artists" to work live on 15 vehicles in 12,000 square feet of space.
"Most of the vehicles were wrapped in a way that the painting was temporary but people loved it," said O'Donnell.
There was also a Hyundai "Hands On" contest, which was won by a 44-year-old government worker who planned to take his new Tucson for a cross country road trip with his father and friend. At the end of the trip, the winner, George Abbott, planned to hand the keys to his friend since he suffers from an eye condition that will eventually keep him from driving.
"I've always believed in helping people who are less fortunate,” said Abbott, referring to a friend who lacks the family support that he has. Abbott has been attending the Washington Auto Show with his father, who is blind, since the 1990s.
Other features of the show included a Military Tribute day and three winners of Green Car Journal’s prestigious Green Car Awards.
Those included the Mercedes-Benz C350e, which took the Connected Green Car of the Year honors, the BMW X5 xDrive40e (2017 Green SUV of the Year) and Acura’s new NSX, which was named 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year.
Profile: Washington Auto Show
January 26-February 4, 2017 (public policy/media days, January 24-25, 2017)
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
725,000 square feet
$12, Adults, $5, Children (12 and under); FREE, under 5
Fri., Jan. 22, noon-10 pm; Saturday., Jan. 23, 10 am to 10 pm; Sunday, Jan. 24, 10-7 pm; Mon. through Thurs., Jan. 25-28, noon to 9 pm; Friday, Jan. 29, noon-10 pm; Sat., Jan. 30, 10 am-10 pm; Sun., Jan. 31, 10 am-6 pm.
Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director