Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) is a committee of Automotive Trade Association Executives. The Mission of ASNA is to be the industry resource for auto show information and education, and to provide a network for communication between show executives, manufacturers, other industry affiliates and media.
Comings and Goings in the auto show community
Denise Brennan has taken over as executive vice president and CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association on the retirement of David Wagner. Wagner is continuing in a consulting role with the Pittsburgh International Auto Show.
Look for a profile of Brennan in an upcoming issue of The Auto Show Report. In the meantime, Brennan can be reached at
412.963.8909 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exhibit Works has made changes to its senior executive team recently. Included in those is the promotion to chief executive officer of Tom Hammond, who was hired as chief operating officer when he joined the company in July 2005, and Kevin Pritchard to chief operating officer; he was previously vice president and account director of Exhibit Works' international division. Separately, the company recently promoted Jerry Kern to vice president of global sales. Exhibit Works former CEO, David Brown, becomes vice chair of the board; company founder Dominic Silvio, who adds chairman to his title in addition to remaining president.
The rebirth of MG CarsFrom England to China to Oklahoma. It may seem like a stretch, but that’s what Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation has planned for the MG brand it acquired in 2005. The company says it will build two new MG vehicles: the TF Roadster and the TF Coupe in the original MG plant in Longbridge, England and a new facility in Ardmore, Oklahoma, respectively. The company will locate its headquarters for MG sales, marketing and distribution outside of Asia in Oklahoma City with research and development in Norman at the University of Oklahoma. NAC has hired Duke T. Hale, who has worked at Volvo, Mazda, Isuzu and Lotus, as its president and CEO for its MG operations. Its auto show strategy has not been announced.
New Chrysler minivan coming this season?While Chrysler officials are so far mum on the details, industry experts are predicting the Chrysler Group will unveil a redesigned minivan this upcoming auto show season. Ralph Gilles, who also worked on the 300C, Magnum and Charger, is reportedly leading the minivan redesign. Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda has acknowledged that a new minivan is in the works. "I can say the biggest launch for the year is the minivan," he said in a second quarter earnings conference call to analysts.
Trendsetter: When you won’t stop at just an iPodApple Computer says some 70 percent of vehicles sold in 2007 will be iPod capable, thanks to a new alliance the company has made with Ford, Mazda and General Motors. But one European company has taken the computer in a car thing to a whole new level. Germany’s Mattes Interieurtechnik, which specializes in interior automotive design for ultra luxury cars, has developed a high-end in-car system based on an Apple iMac G5, whose entire hardware in turn is integrated into the 17-inch monitor that is only five centimeters thick By unplugging one cable and unfastening the locking mechanism the computer can be removed from the car in less than an a minute for use at home or in the office.
Ford to unveil 2008 Super Duty truck at Texas State FairWhile announcing a truck outside an auto show may be of note to those in the ASNA community, from Ford’s perspective the big news with its new 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel, part of the unveiling of its new 2008 F-Series Super Duty pickup, is the ability to run on Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel. The Sept. 28 unveiling comes just ahead of a mandated national availability of the fuel in October.
Remembering a fallen friendAn annual golf outing in its third year has raised more than $100,000 for the family of Dan Sexton, an Exhibit Works employee who succumbed to brain cancer.
The Dan Sexton Memorial Golf Classic, which was held this year on Aug. 23, is the culmination of a pledge by Exhibit Works founder Dominic Silvio to help Sexton's widow, Lee Sexton, and her three children - Elizabeth, Abigail and Samantha.
Held yearly at The Inn at St. John's Golf & Conference Center in Plymouth, Mich., the event receives the formal support of Exhibit Works, which pays for signage and the cost of employees volunteering on the day of the outing.
"We've been told by the staff . . . that our event has been the largest event for the past three years," says Bill Ciccone, Exhibit Works director of human resources, who co-chairs the event with fellow employee Sara Zalno.
Next year's event is already scheduled for Aug. 15, 2007.
Atlanta: Event nears quarter century markShayne Wilson calls it “high energy.”
It’s how the show director for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution International Auto Show describes the 24th annual event, a nine-day, 90-hour spectacular that he says had more vehicles, industry displays, special attractions, and media support than ever before.
“There were 35 pre-production vehicles on display on the show floor, plus nine concept vehicles,” says Wilson, president of the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association.
Wilson credits the 40 different manufacturers and area dealers for their support in bringing in over 600 new vehicles, plus some of the best displays on the auto show circuit. “Our show floor has never looked this good before,” he says.
Even before opening the gates, 40 different area press reps attended a “Media First Look” on the show floor, with guest speaker Scott Settlemire, manager of shows and exhibits for Chevrolet and Hummer.
While the show officially opened at 10 a.m.on Saturday, April 29, activities on the show floor started an hour earlier with 300 loyal Chevrolet Camaro enthusiasts on hand for the area unveiling of the new concept vehicle.
There were non-stop activities on this same show floor throughout opening day, with special appearances by DeAngelo Hall of the Atlanta Falcons in the Butler Tire exhibit, Ryan Langerhans and Roger McDowell of the Atlanta Braves. Media participation was also at an all time high, with radio stations V103, WAOK, 96 Rock and 790 the Zone all on hand at the same time, as were local television stations WATL-TV and WUPA-TV.
One of the weekend’s biggest events took place off site in the Georgia World Congress Center’s Blue Parking Lot on Northside Drive, with Dodge’s Caliber Ride-N-Drive. Show attendees were transported via shuttle to this area where they could test drive a 2007 Dodge Caliber on a road-course designed with twists, turns, speed bumps and an acceleration pad.
Ford gave show attendees the chance to meet the two most recent acquisitions of the Atlanta Falcons: Safety Lawyer Milloy and Defensive End John Abraham, who signed autographs during a “Meet the Falcons” party that included mascot Freddie and several of the team’s cheerleaders.
Master illusionist Lawrence Gregory performed multiple times daily during the entire nine days of the show, thanks to a generous sponsorship from Dent Wizard. Gregory once again presented his signature act of making an automobile disappear on stage, plus introduced two new illusions: catching a fired bullet between his teeth, and making a table levitate in mid-air. Bleachers were erected in front of Gregory’s performance area, and were packed throughout the show.
A new auto show exhibit, “Work in Progress,” devoted space to restoring, customizing and accessorizing vehicles, with many customized cars and motorcycles displayed, as well as daily special custom painting demonstrations.
Much attention has been given to a shortage of auto technicians in the industry, and shows such as Atlanta are continuing to do their part to close the gap. With that in mind, the show welcomed 85 service technician students from McEachern and Cherokee High Schools, treating them to a pre-opening look at the show, including a special performance by the illusionist, demonstration by two custom painters, and an overview of the training services offered by MAADA’s Academy for Automotive Professionals.
“This is the most fun that our students have had on a field trip this year,” said Dave Shuler, service tech instructor at McEachern High School. “We can’t wait until next year so that we can do it again.”
The show’s fast pace became even faster during its final four days thanks to the Toyota Trucks Off Road On Site Adventure, produced by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. A team of 20 people worked for a full day to transform the Congress Center’s Blue Lot into an off-road, obstacle course where show attendees could test drive new 4x4 Tundra and Tacoma pick-up trucks. Over 20 tons of gravel and dirt were used in this course, which featured such obstacles as moguls, logs, sand pits and burms. The trucks were also tested on a hill climb, acceleration run and evasive lane change. According to the production crew, over 1,400 attendees enjoyed this ride and drive experience during these four days.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary when it returns on March 10-18, 2007.
Cincinnati: Additional space boosts attendance but demand still highMore.
It’s one of the first words from Ace Ammann, executive vice president of the Greater Cincinnati Auto Dealers Association, which sponsors the Cincinnati Auto Expo.
“We had more paying people than any show we’ve tracked since the mid 1980s,” says Ammann, who points to several factors at work.
That and relatively good weather - February is always a question for a northern event like Cincinnati - sparked the kind of attendance an auto show organizer dreams about.
Still, good weather and an expanded convention center do not an auto show make, although the additional space went a long way toward easing exhibitor demand for their own version of “more.”
Even so, historically high demand for space has precluded any so-called “entertainment” features.
“There’s little of that here with space in such demand,” says Ammann. And that demand has stayed high with the new convention facility having taken up the slack but not completely fulfilled it. In fact, he notes, one manufacturer who had cut back on space requests and had its allotment quickly gobbled up “is having a difficult time getting it back.”
Marketing of the show is a cooperative effort between the major show sponsor, the Cincinnati-Enquirer newspaper. Additional support comes from Cincinnati magazine, which handles the show program, as well as WCPO-TV, the ABC affiliate.
In some respects, the competition from the newspaper and television is one that helps the auto show.
“The Enquirer can’t sell a one hour prime time TV show,” says Ammann, referring to the coverage TV provides. And being the only newspaper, dealers are almost held captive.”
Still, the newspaper does help build attendance through show week advertising. And, like other areas of the country, the show itself is almost a “rite of spring.”
“If the car show is this weekend, can spring be far behind?” says Ammann.
“Next year, we’re going to make it a true ‘preview’ party,” says Ammann. That will mean adding an element of exclusivity to an event that raised nearly $20,000 for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center from $100 ticket sales.
“Some people said the preview just wasn’t attracting the people we wanted it to,” says Ammann. “We’ll now be focusing on bringing in more dealer principals and community leadership to the event.”
Charleston: Momentum continues in ‘great car state’Ruth Lemmon has lots of reasons to be effusive about her West Virginia International Auto Show.
“It was wonderful,” says Lemmon, executive vice president of the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, which owns the show, produced by Motor Trend.
While the show had the requisite number of new cars on display, Lemmon is particularly happy with the level of support she gets from manufacturers, and specifically with the number of concepts she’s able to display.
Lemmon says dealer support is key to getting the concept vehicles, which included the Dodge Sling Shot, Chrysler Phaeton, and Jeep Varsity.
“In some cases, the dealer pays the entire cost of a display,” she says, pointing to one in particular, Smith Company Motor Cars, which operates Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover and Volvo franchises.
“They bring in great cars and great music,” says Lemmon. “It makes for a great display and really steps it up.”
Additional concept vehicles came in the form of the Motor Trend Showcase, a special display of favorite classic concepts from the automotive vaults of DaimlerChrysler and Ford. Vehicles featured included the Chrysler Thunderbolt, Dodge M80, Super8 Hemi, Jeep Dakar, Ford Fairlane, and Mercury Messenger.
“This is a great car state and people love their cars,” she says. “That and the great support we get from dealers and media, which gives us great publicity before and during the show, are reasons for our success.”
The show itself draws attendees from as far away as Columbus and Pittsburgh and Lemmon has expanded her media buy to build on that fact.
At the dealer level, support goes both ways.
“They know they’re going to get more floor traffic in three days at the auto show than they would in weeks of people just coming by their dealerships,” says Lemmon. “And many times people might not be predisposed to even look at a Jag or an Audi or Lexus vehicle. Once they come to the show, they see the vehicles and they get excited.”
Dallas: Where basics seem to work bestRemember the immigration demonstrations that took place earlier this year?
Even so, McKinley says it was “a very good show” with positive feedback from an exit survey.
And next year, she says, it will be even better, one reason being a date change that puts the Dallas Auto Show on the positive side of the switchover to Daylight Savings Time.
“Once Daylight Savings hits, we have trouble getting people indoors,” says McKinley. “Our new dates (March 14-18) are perfect for us.”
Inside the Dallas Convention Center, things remain as tight as ever.
“We’re in sold out mode,” says McKinley, who had just completed her floor plan for the 2007 show. “We have better than 550,000 square feet and we’ll have everyone back that we’ve had in the past.”
McKinley counts herself “very fortunate” that manufacturers see the show as being one of the upper tier events.
“Even though we’re only a five day show, we do get upper end exhibits here.”
Dealers in particular remain supportive of the event, and for very good reason.
“It is a springboard for the selling season,” says McKinley. “It’s not a selling show, but the event generates a lot of leads for our dealers. That can tie them over for about six to eight months.”
McKinley says she’ll continue to focus on her member dealers in any plans she makes for the future.
“Everything we do drives people to the show,” she says. “We have some great sponsorships with our media partners and that helps. But beyond that, we don’t do anything unusual. We’re just Dallas. And we do what we think is right, the best thing for our dealers.”
Los Angeles: All eyes on L.A. as new dates approachNo question . . . the anticipation building around the new, permanent fall dates for the Los Angeles Auto Show has people excited.
“There’s a favorable buzz among auto journalists and automakers for the new dates,” says Barry Toepke, the show’s director of communications.
“The new dates move us away from the near overlap with the Detroit show,” says Toepke.
Working with the city of Los Angeles and the convention center to secure consistent dates took two years from the decision point. And while the transition may have seemed unsettling to some, it was the only way to achieve the desired result, which was consistency.
“The one thing we would not want to do was move from various months to months,” says Toepke. “It just took a while to be able to give us what we wanted.”
“After the date change announcement was made, that all disappeared.”
Looking to the next show (Press Days Nov. 29-30; Public Days Dec. 1-10, 2006), Toepke says show goers can look forward to seeing more world debuts (12 automakers are already confirmed, some with multiple debuts) and bigger exhibits from automakers who continue to support the auto show as an effective marketing tool. Another continuing area of emphasis for the show is “Design Los Angeles,” a symposium/challenge coming up on its third year.
“Our strategy in working with the design community was to start with the premise: ‘what can the show do for you?’,” explains Toepke. “That’s how the sessions came to be developed and it’s worked out very well, not only for designers, who benefit by seeing their work showcased in a different venue, but for the show attendees as well.”
And at least one automaker is using the event in quite a different way.
“GM, in particular, who won last year, is using their entries as a tool to make management aware of what the studio is doing,” notes Toepke.
The show itself benefits in having the local design community lobby for the ever-elusive concept cars to be brought to Los Angeles.
“They’re starting to be advocates for us,” says Toepke, pointing to a number of concept cars, all from local studios that will be seen at this year’s event.
Looking back, Toepke says the Design Los Angeles did exactly what organizers hoped. And maybe more.
“It made sense to be working together,” he says. “It just took some time to find the right tool.”
New Orleans: Post-Katrina, good news outweighs the badClearly, any discussion about the Big Easy has its good news/bad news elements.
But the very fact there was a New Orleans International Auto Show this past season is reason enough to cheer.
And so we shall.
Still, Jeffrie Schultis Fricke, who with her father Bob Schultis remains a guiding force behind the New Orleans show, had her challenges, not least of which was a reluctance on the part of some manufacturers to support the show.
Was it the fact that the population of Orleans Parish is only about 30 percent of pre-Katrina levels? Perhaps. But marketing for the show was deliberately extended out for 150 miles, the intention being to attract those who would eventually return.
In the end, Schultis Fricke says attendance, while off somewhat, wasn’t a disappointment.
“We did very well.”
On another positive note, organizers were able to convince the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission to allow a Sunday opening for auto show, something that had previously not been permitted. The catch? No licensed sales people could be present.
Schultis Fricke went to a previously untapped resource for help: college students.
About 40 stepped up to the plate, receiving professional training over two days on how to answer questions, give basic dealership information and “meet and greet.”
“It worked great,” says Schultis Fricke. “So great in fact that it helped address another problem dealerships have in the area, which is a lack of staff. If a dealership had 12 people before Katrina, they now have seven. Maybe.”
“We’ll do this again next year,” says Schultis Fricke.
Schultis Fricke took advantage of the temporary move (the show will move back to the Superdome after next year’s event, making room for the rebooked conventions that the city has been able to attract).
“We reached out to the World of Wheels for some great displays,” says Schultis Fricke. They included a bevy of customized “hot rod” vehicles, plus customized cars and trucks, and New Orleans’ own Gold Digger Chopper.
Another entertainment feature was the appearance of two representatives from West Coast Customs and MTV’s Pimp My Ride.
“People talked about pimping their ride but there was also talk about pimping their FEMA trailer,” says Schultis Fricke, obviously tongue in cheek.
“You’ve got to have some humor in this.”
Indeed, the show itself was a therapeutic break for the New Orleans area.
“People needed to get away from gutting houses,” says Schultis Fricke. “Being able to spend the weekend doing something fun was a big help.”
So how is the rebirth of New Orleans going?
“Slowly,” says Schultis Fricke. “Eighty percent of the city is still uninhabitable. Our new kitchen cabinets just arrived, almost a year after Katrina. And we have jobs.”
New York: ‘World capital’ continues to build on its strengthsThe Big Apple.
In so many ways, New York is just that. It is, after all, the city America looks to when it comes to finance, media (at least the news media) and just about everything else that’s larger than life.
It’s little surprise then that the organizers of the New York International Auto Show, including Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association, and show director Candida Romanelli (who is also vice president of the GNYADA), are doing their best to leverage the city’s influence when it comes to the automotive industry.
They’re starting from solid ground, reminding the industry that New York reports the highest attendance of any show, something Romanelli says creates an opportunity to work even more closely with manufacturers.
Schienberg’s perspective is equally positive when it comes to the auto show, particularly the most recent iteration.
“Our attendance numbers were actually better than we expected, and we’re pleased with where we were,” he says.
But impact doesn’t come just with numbers, something Schienberg says manufacturers are understanding even more so than they did before.
“They’ve started to understand how they need to tap into what some of the shows have available to them, whether it’s a market area for a certain type of vehicle purchase, or, in the case of New York, the ability to connect with a broad segment of the media and the financial community.”
Those underlying market strengths, Schienberg says, give automakers the ability to connect with customers and build relationships and not only with those coming through the show gates.
“It’s also building relationships with the media and with other segments, such as the Wall Street community.”
Schienberg, for example, points to a significant program the show has developed in partnership with Morgan Stanley, three days where the financial community connects with the automotive industry.
“We also work very closely with the television association to discuss how the automotive industry and the TV industry can work together,” says Schienberg.
In past years, the New York show has “gone global” in a strategy to solidify the city's position as one of the world's most important shows. Two years ago Paris Motor Show organizers hosted a press conference at the New International Auto Show. Since then New York has held press events at the Paris, Geneva and Tokyo shows. Earlier this year, representatives from Tokyo visited New York to give a hint as to what the industry might expect at its upcoming event.
The overall impression is one that Schienberg says is positive for all concerned.
“I think it’s shown that auto shows are all in this together,” he says. “I don’t care if it’s a big international show, like Detroit or New York, or a more regional show. The events are extremely important to the industry, notably because the public treats the auto show as a very important part of their buying decision.”
Connecting with other shows, Schienberg says, may have been something of a gamble, but it was a strategic one.
“There was a lot of apprehension at first, with some asking the basic question: are we in competition? But it’s been a great collaboration and we’re all very pleased with what has occurred.”
With Romanelli leveraging her background in television (she worked in creative services at WWOR-TV before coming to the GNYADA 15 years ago), the first order of business was to “brand” the auto show.
“We’ve got a lot of great things going for us,” says Romanelli, pointing to New York’s strength as a major media and financial center. “In the last five years, we’ve started to branch out and really launched some major marketing efforts.”
While acknowledging the list of sponsorships is far from complete, Romanelli points to ongoing connections with XM and Sirius satellite radio, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and a new addition for last year: AutoTrader.com, which has since agreed to return in a multi-season sponsorship arrangement.
For its part, the auto show builds an integrated marketing program that helps a sponsor maximize not only its exposure but its interaction with media and consumers alike.
Looking ahead, Romanelli says space issues continue to be a challenge. And while an expansion of the Javits Center is planned, it will at least initially mean losing some nearby areas that were used for ancillary exhibits.
What won’t go, she says, is one of the show’s biggest new attractions in recent years.
“Camp Jeep New York will stay. Definitely.”
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
11/3/2017 - 11/5/2017
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts:Automotive Trade Association Executives
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
703.556.8581 - fax
Gary Thomas, ATAE Chairman
Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director
Peter Hodges, ASNA Chairman
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor