has released a white paper that indicates that the influence of an auto show to a customer was as strong 12 months after the event as it was when they attended the show. The reason? "Because people go to the show to shop for a vehicle and they plan way ahead," said Foresight CEO Steve Bruyn
. "We find that year after year that the power of auto shows does not significantly decline for at least a year – until the next auto show." More information on the study is available from Bob Longstreth
, a two-year-old startup that has developed a car shopping and financing app for smartphones, has signed up several so-called "captive" finance companies, with at least $1 billion having been invested in the firm. So far, Daimler AG, Volkswagen, and Hyundai Capital America (representing Hyundai, Kia and Genesis) have all signed up. Some 750,000 users, with an average age of 31, have reportedly downloaded the app. AutoGravity, which is based in Irvine, Calif., uses proprietary technology centered on smartphones to connect shoppers with lenders as well as dealers. Andreas Hincrichs, who is founder and CEO of the company, said bringing the car financing experience into the digital age is the goal of the company.
The pressure is on for automakers to shift their manufacturing mix from gasoline to electric power, but China's government is easing up on the timetable, postponing the start of a new program until 2019. That said, there are hints from regulators that new rules are coming that will effectively see the phasing out of internal combustion engines. Issues around air pollution tend to be the driving force in this regulatory environment and the government says it plans to continue ratcheting up the percentage of vehicles that are sold with electric power.
Toyota Motor Corp. is reportedly joining forces with Mazda Motor Corp. and Denso in the formation of a joint venture (JV) focused on the development of electric vehicle technologies. The JV, for which Toyota has provided 90 percent of the funding (with Mazda and Denso each contributing 5 percent), will be staffed by engineers from each of the companies. A statement by Toyota said the intent is to ensure the efficient implementation of the joint technological development projects. The JV, called EV C.A. Spirit Co. Ltd., will be based in Nagoya, Toyota's home base in Japan. Denso, a Toyota Group company, is considered one of Toyota's most trusted suppliers of sophisticated components, including electronics.
, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, says he doesn't see growth coming from North America this year, in spite of a spike in September sales likely related to replacement of vehicles lost with hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Still, Ghosn, who will be giving up his CEO title at Nissan to focus more on Mitsubishi, doesn't expect a serious downturn. He made the comments in an interview with CNBC. Any growth, he said, is likely to come from China, although Nissan has seen strong growth in Europe, which has recovered from a long recession. That future, however, may be clouded by Brexit and the fact Nissan has key manufacturing sites in the U.K.
General Motors may be giving itself some breathing room in light of the Chinese government's push toward electric vehicles. The automaker has said it is putting two new generation dual injection engines into China, both of which are part of a global architecture that was developed with the support of its worldwide manufacturing and supply chain networks. The engines, 1.0-T and 1.3-T, will power Buick and Chevrolet models sold in China starting later in 2017. The engines are said to be the first turbocharged engines to apply dual port injection, which optimizes combustion. They come to market just as Chinese authorities intensify their efforts to shift from gasoline power to battery power.
A new study by Inrix
, a Seattle-based company that specializes in connected car services and transportation analytics, says traffic congestion in the U.S. is a $1,400 per driver problem that's only getting worse. Much of those costs come in the form of time and fuel but also from higher costs of goods that rely on congested roads to get to market. Through 2026, the cost for commuters in areas like Los Angeles will be $90.9 billion. For New York City, the comparable number is $63.9 billion. Taking a closer look at one market, LA, where U.S. 101 South connects to CA-134 and CA-170, the average duration of a traffic jam is 355 minutes and stretching an average of four miles. Inrix said it counted 108 traffic jams at that spot in a two-month period.
With attendance up about four percent over last year, ATAE Peter Kitzmiller
saw this past season's Motor Trend International Auto Show-Baltimore as a success, especially now that he has sorted out past issues with dates.
"It was the first reasonable time for dates that we've had in a while," said Kitzmiller of the event.
Whether there's a "cause/effect" in play, Kitzmiller said there was a "dramatically higher" use of the eticket program than in the past and a very strong last day as far as attendance is concerned.
The Baltimore show is one of the longest running events in the Motor Trend Auto Shows network and Kitzmiller has seen his show stay current throughout that time.
'Now we've got some of the logistics (related to the Ride and Drive events in downtown Baltimore) sorted out, and the feedback has been very positive. The numbers are where
the manufacturers would like them to be and they're very happy.'
—ATAE Peter Kitzmiller.
"They're always doing some different things, and the advertising support is always getting better. That's always been the case as we renew the show."
The show bumped up the traditional three separate Ride and Drive events by one this year, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, GM and Toyota all taking part.
Kitzmiller believes the Ride and Drive concept is not only "here to stay" but that it provides a critical piece in how consumers see the experience. "Getting to experience how a vehicle behaves on the road is something that we're able to provide with the Ride and Drive."
While downtown Baltimore, especially in winter, has been a challenge in the past, not-so-subtle changes (like bringing the waiting area indoors) has helped to make the Ride and Drive experience an even more appealing one.
"Now we've got some of those logistics sorted out, and the feedback has been very positive," said Kitzmiller. "The numbers are where the manufacturers would like them to be and they're very happy."
Also at this year's show was a return of the DuPont Registry display of vehicles, with a bigger footprint.
"We continue to feature the vehicles at this show, with not a lot of other types of features. What we've decided is to put those kind of investments into promoting and advertising the show."
Profile: Motor Trend International Auto Show Baltimore
Most recent: Feb. 9-12, 2017
Next year: Feb. 8-11, 2018
Baltimore Convention Center
240,000 square feet
$12, Adults, $8; Seniors (Thurs.-Friday); $10, Seniors (Sat.-Sun.); Military (with ID), $8, Children (under 12) FREE .
Thursday, noon-10 pm; Friday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-7 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
Weather seemed to be one of the most significant factors in many of this season's auto shows, and such was the case with the Pennsylvania Auto Show, which saw attendance jump 11 percent over last year.
And Dan McMillen
, show manager, attributes most of this to the good weather.
"It really was a big part of it," said McMillen, who works with ATAE John Devlin
in organizing the show, the first under the direct production of the Harrisburg Automotive Trade Association.
The group set its foot forward with its first charity event, with the money raised—$41,000—going to the PinnacleHealth Children's Resource Center
McMillen said he expects the show to continue a trend that is seen elsewhere, that being to embrace a "family friendly" atmosphere, starting with free admission to children under 12, which began with last year's show.
'(The facility is) aligned with the parking and that made a big difference for us. It will be especially welcome when there's colder weather.'
—Dan McMillen, show manager.
This year a family day on Sunday, with inflatables, face painting and balloons, helped create the kind of atmosphere organizers believe will continue to attract families.
There was also a kid's test drive area, with mini electric cars a bit hit with the young ones.
A big change this year was moving the entrance to the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, helping to ease what was previously a fairly long walk for attendees.
"Now it's aligned with the parking and that made a big difference for us," said McMillen. "It will be especially welcome when there's colder weather."
As McMillen and his team move forward, they expect to provide a local feel for the show.
"There are different features that the area can provide and we'll be working to develop those as an independently produced event," he said.
Some of the features already put in place this year included a vehicle giveaway which saw a reverse draw down to the winner, with a live drawing on the local TV station.
The show also included a Powersports Hall, where a collection of boats, ATVs, personal watercraft and motorcycles was a crowd favorite.
There was also a showcase of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles at this year's show, with more than 200 vehicles continually rotated by the dealers participating in the event.
Two Ride and Drives (from Ford and Toyota) rounded out the first show directly produced by the Harrisburg Automobile Dealers Association.
"We're excited to bring it back home," said McMillen.
Profile: Pennsylvania Auto Show
Most recent: Jan. 26-29, 2017
Next year: Jan. 25-28, 2018
Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex & Expo Center
305,848 square feet
Adults (13 and over), $10; Seniors (62 and over), $6; Military, $6; Kids 12 and under, Free
Thurs., 1 pm-9 pm; Fri.-Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun., 10 am-5 pm.
Harrisburg Automotive Trade Association (HATA)
ATAE John Devlin|
Pennsylvania Automobile Association
717.255.8311, ext. 3336
It's not uncommon for people who live in the Greater Milwaukee area to "double dip" when it comes to their attendance at the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show, says ATAE Jim Tolkan
"We're talking about not only people who are car enthusiasts, but those who are in the market more frequently than the average buyer," said Tolkan.
'Chicago ends on President's Day and our show starts the next Saturday. Their first trip is to see the latest and greatest and then they come back to Milwaukee to do
their serious shopping.'
—ATAE Jim Tolkan.
The calendar also has something to do with a two-weekend habit that has people driving the 90 minutes to the Chicago Auto Show, which is held the weekend before, then attending the Milwaukee show.
"Chicago ends on President's Day and our show starts the next Saturday," said Tolkan. "Their first trip is to see the latest and greatest and then they come back to Milwaukee to do their serious shopping."
With a good number of Ride and Drives from as many as eight individual brands, the Milwaukee show is like the icing on the cake for these buyers.
Other features are brought into the show by Motor Trend Auto Shows, the producer, with the selection typically differing from year to year.
This year, a "stand out" was a display of vehicles that were wrapped by exhibitors.
"We told them to be as creative and far out as they can," said Tolkan, who organized a competition that drew appreciative crowds.
This year included a display of vintage convertibles: Topless in Milwaukee.
Kids were also catered to with a Kids Test Track.
The show featured a Zip Line (sponsored by FCA) that soared over the show floor, a Car Karaoke (sponsored by CBS 58, which runs the James Corden TV show that made the idea so popular), and a Hot Rod Showcase.
"We gave away a new Buick as part of the show," added Tolkan. "And after some time thinking about it, we finally purchased a challenging miniature golf course that featured a tournament with the 18 best scores putting off for cash prizes."
Profile: Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
Most recent: February 25-March 5, 2017
Next year: February 24-March 4, 2018
212,000 square feet
Adults, $12; Children (7-12), $6, Children under 6, FREE. Children under 12 FREE on last Sunday.
Monday-Thursday, 3 pm.-9 pm, Friday, 1 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Jim Tolkan|
President, Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee
While attendance at this year's Northeast International Auto Show may have been flat, ATAE Jack Perkins
points out that the people who did make their way to the Rhode Island Convention Center seemed to be even more committed about taking the next step when it comes to entering the market."At least anecdotally, we heard more stories about attendees being more serious and making appointments to get down to the dealerships after the show," said Perkins.
What seemed to pique the interest of show goers was how advanced technologies that seem to be just about everywhere are making it safer to be on the road.
'People tend to think of these things—like collision avoidance, lane assist and so forth—to be futuristic or on the most expensive luxury cars, but then they find out
that the technology is on everyday models. And that's a pleasant surprise to many.'
—ATAE Jack Perkins.
"We emphasize what's new in terms of safety and technology," said Perkins. "It's something we try to push and this year we had a lot to push. That resulted in a good reaction from the media and there was a lot of interest there, which translated into a good response from consumers."
Perkins said the kind of features now available in the market are eye opening.
"People tend to think of these things—like collision avoidance, lane assist and so forth—to be futuristic or on the most expensive luxury cars, but then they find out that the technology is on everyday models," he said. "And that's a pleasant surprise to many."
Perkins says those revelations are at least part of what's driving sales, and experiencing what's available is a big part of the auto show experience.
"In some cases, people are in the market but they don't necessarily know what's available. Then once they become aware, most people are pleased to find out what is available that improves safety and convenience."
At this year's show, the Audrain Auto Museum
, located in nearby Newport, brought in a collection of vehicles that turned heads, including a Bugatti that is valued at more than $1 million.
"They had some older models that made a very nice collection," said Perkins.
And a little positive spillover to the nearby exhibitors, who found the crowds that came by to see the vintage vehicles then visited those new car displays.
In at least one case—Jaguar—which hadn't been at the show for a while, was "absolutely thrilled" with the activity that resulted from being adjacent to the Audrain display, where a vintage Jaguar was part of the collection brought to the show.
Profile: Northeast International Auto Show
Most recent: January 27-29, 2017
Next year: February 9 -11, 2018
Rhode Island Convention Center
120,000 square feet
$12, Adult; $9, Seniors; $8, Students, Children 12 and under, FREE.
Fri. noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-6 pm.
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Jack Perkins
Executive Vice President, Rhode Island Automobile Dealers Association
For ATAE Chris Adelmann
, this season's Saint Louis International Auto Show was notable at least in one respect for what wasn't part of the marketing for the popular event.
"We cut out anything that wasn't live TV in our advertising," said Adelmann. "For us that meant focusing on news and sports programming."
'(Leveraging our broadcast advertising) proved to be very significant about two to three weeks out from the show. We couldn't flip on the TV or radio for 10 minutes
without hearing about our show.'
—ATAE Chris Adelmann.
From a practical standpoint, show organizers "rearranged" the marketing budget to include billboards, although Adelmann isn't a fan of the digital variety.
"It's about the number of views we get," he said, making the point that at least from his perspective, there's only a fractional opportunity for the auto show message to be seen by cars going by on a highway.
At the same time, Adelmann said he was able to successfully negotiate an impressive leveraging of exposure on live programs, using the power of dealership advertising.
"That proved to be very significant about two to three weeks out from the show," he added. "We couldn't flip on the TV or radio for 10 minutes without hearing about our show."
He also shortened the duration of various spots, both on TV and radio, to no more than a 15-second spot.
It's a strategy that Adelmann said is very popular in the St. Louis market.
At the show itself, an expansion of existing features was integral to this year's success, where attendance was up from last season.
Those included a Kid Zone, an auto show experience crafted just for kids that included a "Safety Street" presented by St. Louis Children's Hospital
, a photo booth and a rock climbing wall.
The return of a Million Dollar Mile and its collection of luxury and exotic vehicles was also popular as well as an indoor kart racing feature from Gateway Kartplex
Outdoors there were live drift demos by Vaughn Gittin Jr., as well as Chelsea DeNofa, a teammate of Gittin.
People could see the demonstrations every day of the show.
Adelmann said he has plans to further develop relationships with vendors to car dealers, the strategy being to improve display space with the use of audio visual enhancements.
In the "here and now" Adelmann said the St. Louis show is working with eshots
, a firm that is growing in the auto show sector through a centralized registration system.
"It's about improving consumer engagement and we're trying to make things easier for automakers on the digital side, gathering data that improves follow up after the show," said Adelmann.
Profile: Saint Louis Auto Show
Most recent: January 19-22, 2017
Next year: January 25-28, 2018
America's Center and Edward Jones Dome
502,000 square feet
$11, Adults; $5, Children (6-12), FREE, Children under 6
Thurs., noon-9 pm; Fri., noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-5 pm.
Saint Louis Auto Dealers Association
ATAE Chris Adelmann|
Executive Vice President
St. Louis Auto Dealers Association
While attendance at this season's Utah International Auto Expo may have been down slightly, ATAE Craig Bickmore
is quick to point out that numbers don't tell the entire story.
"The upside of this year's event was that we had a higher concentration of ready buyers than in the past," said Bickmore.
"There will always be years when attendance is up or down, but the most important thing is who's in the market and what they do after being at the show."
Bickmore was also impressed, not just by the "quality" of the attendees but how manufacturers came to the show with an investment in the exhibits.
'We had a higher concentration of ready buyers than in the past. There will always be years when attendance is up or down, but the most important thing is who's in the
market and what they do after being at the show.'
—ATAE Craig Bickmore.
He was also effusive with the performance of the product specialists who staffed the various exhibits.
"They really outshone themselves in their ability to speak with attendees, answer their questions, and engage with our visitors," said Bickmore.
Taking a broader perspective of the show, Bickmore said having a natural flow throughout the South Towne Exposition Center adds to the experience.
"It naturally lends itself to the public to visit the entire show, with all the exhibits," he said.
Bickmore was also congratulatory when it came to the media's ability to create awareness for the show and to encourage attendance, even in the winter months.
"We also had some great partnerships, with the Utah Highway Patrol doing a very nice job at the entry ways and offering their expertise when it comes to a campaign for safe driving," he added.
"It was a very family friendly event and we can thank them for being a part of that effort."
Profile: Utah International Auto Show Expo
Most recent: January 13-16, 2017
Next year: January 12-15, 2018
South Towne Expo Center
290,000 square feet
Adults, $10; Seniors and Military, $6; FREE, Children 12 and under on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Friday, 11 am-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-10 pm; Sunday & Monday 10 am-8 pm
Motor Trend Auto Shows
ATAE Craig Bickmore|
New Car Dealers of Utah
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director