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.
Pittsburgh moved to late April after loading dock collapseThe Pittsburgh International Auto Show, originally slated to run from Feb. 10-18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, has been rescheduled for April 26-30, 2007, following the collapse of a 20 foot by 60 foot section of a second floor loading dock.
The failure of the floor sent the concrete onto a street below and stranded a tractor trailer for at least a few days. There were no injuries resulting from the incident.
“Obviously the center was trying to be hopeful,” says Taft, referring to a period between Monday, when the incident occurred, and Wednesday, when organizers made the decision to reschedule.
Denise Brennan, who recently joined the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association as executive director, and was profiled in the last issue of The Auto Show Report, said discussions with the city’s sports and exhibition authority, which runs the convention center, made it possible to reschedule, pending a complete inspection of the facility.
“I want to make it perfectly clear that safety is still our top priority and the final decision to allow the show to happen remains with the building officials,” said Brennan.
The show itself did not carry Showstoppers insurance, making it doubly important that the event eventually take place, since most of the association’s annual revenue comes from the auto show.
Just as important is the obvious connection between auto sales and the auto show itself.
“People look forward to the auto show,” says Taft. “They’re excited about the new models and dealers definitely feel the impact of the show on their sales.”
Manufacturers appear to be supportive of the rescheduling, possibly due in part to the fact that the New York International Auto Show precedes the new dates, making it easier for exhibits and vehicles to be sent to Pittsburgh.
Chicago hosts GM’s Student Design Competition
Students from Chicago’s International Academy of Design and Technology look on during the kick off event for the 2007 GM Student Design Competition at the Chicago Auto Show Friday, Feb. 9, 2007. Students sketch and produce garments that complement GM concept cars and new production vehicles during the next two months for a chance to be selected as one of five winning designs that will be showcased at Imagine 2007, an annual fashion show produced by IADT and GM at Chicago's Union Station May 17. Meanwhile, a model shows a winning design from last year's event. (General Motors Photo/Aynsley Floyd)
World Car of the Year finalists chosenA short list of 10 finalists for the World Car of the Year awards have been announced. Winners will be announced during press preview at the New York International Auto Show, April 5, 2007. An international jury of 45 automotive journalists chooses the World Car of the Year awards. Eligible vehicles must be in production and be sold in at least five countries on two continents.
World Car finalists include:
Canadian journalists name Toyota Camry Hybrid 'Car of Year'The Automotive Journalists Association of Canada announced its “Canadian Car of the Year” awards, with top honors going to the Toyota Camry Hybrid. AJAC made the announcement Feb. 14, 2007 at Toronto’s Canadian International Auto Show. AJAC members also picked winners in several subcategories, including:
Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year
Best New Technology
Best New Design
AJAC also named several other “Best New” category winners including:
Auto affordability dropped in 4Q 2006, says ComericaIt’s taking consumers longer to buy an average-priced new vehicle these days and Comerica Bank says the latest nationwide figures represent the biggest one-quarter deterioration in auto affordability ever recorded by its index. Buying the average vehicle now takes 26.2 weeks of median family income, a rise of 2.2 weeks since the third quarter. The drop wiped out most of the improvements in affordability recorded over the prior three quarters. It now takes $29,400 (including finance charges) to buy an average-priced light vehicle, up three percent from a year ago. Median family income rose about four percent over those four quarters.
Comings and Goings in the auto show community
Charleston: Better information, directed advertising boost attendanceWhile there are likely a lot of happy people in and around West Virginia, there are two people in particular who have more than enough reasons to smile these days.
One is Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, whose West Virginia International Auto Show posted a 25 percent increase in attendance from a year earlier.
“Basically we redirected where the advertising was going to go,” says Lemmon. “And we didn’t do a lot of the giveaway promotions we had done before.”
Maryland-based Adstrategies agency works with some 20 auto shows (most of them like West Virginia under the Motor Trend banner). Van Loon says one of the challenges is getting members of auto show committees to understand who actually goes to a show.
“Everyone wants to think they’re like them,” says Van Loon. “But the core attendee is probably a male, 18-44 years of age. It’s difficult to convince the auto show committee member that the typical person attending isn’t them.”
Lemmon says Van Loon was willing to “do something different” which, in the case of West Virginia, was actually targeting that 18-44 year old demographic, sometimes to the exclusion of others who weren’t likely going to be attending the show anyway.
A key to acting on the survey information, says Van Loon, is actually starting with good information.
By adding computer workstations and making it easier for show attendees to fill out a quick survey, Van Loon and his team have been able to not only capture valid information, but apply modern survey technologies to understanding what attendees want from the show and, who they are from a demographic standpoint.
By reviewing the information on a consistent basis year after year, Van Loon says course corrections in strategy can follow. “The survey information gives you a pretty good idea of what’s happening and what will happen.”
Choosing the most effective media is one area where auto show marketers need to change, says Van Loon.
“Three years ago, when we would ask ‘where do you get your news and information?’ what would come up was newspapers, TV, radio,” he says. “The Internet wasn’t even on the survey screen. Now it’s consistently coming up as the number one way the majority of people get their news and information, and the younger they are, the more common that is. A lot of people haven’t dealt with that reality.”
Lemmon says the show was able to secure a major sponsor in a local convenience store chain, One Stop, which offered a free ticket promotion with the purchase of eight gallons of fuel. “They got one ticket free, but the survey information we had suggested people come to the show with someone else. So they had to buy a second ticket, which helped with the attendance.”
Detroit: Focus on media becomes basis for constant improvementsWhile Detroit’s North American International Auto Show shares a common purpose among other events in other cities, one thing stands out from the perspective of Rod Alberts, executive director of both the show and the sponsoring Detroit Auto Dealers Association.
“This is primarily a media-driven show,” says Alberts. “Our focus is providing a great place to unveil cars for manufacturers who want to use Detroit as a stage. And we’re very pleased with the results this year.”
And more than 6,000 media from 62 countries were on hand to pass on the news to the world’s readers, viewers listeners and surfers.
While unveilings and media attention are key to the show’s success, as Alberts explains, the various elements associated with the NAIAS are all connected, which further enhances the show’s enduring success.
“Everything is linked,” he says. “We begin with the three-day Press Preview, but it’s followed up with our Industry Preview days, which is very popular for the many suppliers in the area. And then there’s Charity Preview, an event that raises $6 million for a variety of important children’s charities in the area.”
Still, as Alberts explains, attracting people to the show remains an important element of the overall success of the NAIAS.
“It’s very important from a dealer perspective that we have a drive to sell cars during and after the show,” says Alberts. “But we also want to stir the market up a bit. We’re giving people a reason to come out and compare and that helps.”
But Alberts also understands that the international attention the Detroit show generates has a spill-over effect when it comes to local market penetration. He also credits a strong media presence for helping to drive interest and, by extension, attendance.
“Some very well-known media, such as Automotive News, AutoWeek and others are right here in Detroit,” says Alberts.
Alberts says all shows, including Detroit, do well to play to their strengths.
“Every show is the best at something,” he adds. “We’ve made one of our strengths the ability to showcase the world’s products, including recently the introduction of vehicles from China.”
At the same time, Alberts says the popular event, the only one in North America to be sanctioned on an "annual" basis by Paris-based Organisation Internationale Des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, will continue to evolve and improve.
“We’re continually upgrading services for the media, our sponsors and the people who attend the show,” he says. “All of these groups are extremely important to us so we’re always looking for the next new idea to improve things.”
Which is not always an easy thing to do, especially year after year.
“Just when you think you’ve got something nailed, there’s always something you can do better.”
Greenville: Show reaches out to youthClearly with an eye on the future, the South Carolina International Auto Show had more than its share of emphasis on young people, notably with its hosting of the state finalist competition for the Automotive Youth Educational Systems.
Pat Watson, executive vice president of the SCADA, says the event is a tangible way for the association to give back to the community. “We are constantly reaching out to South Carolina’s youth to provide them with interesting and well-paying career opportunities within the automotive arena.”
Show manager Shannon Packard says this year’s show was able to capitalize on the area’s interest in stock car racing, notably with a display of nine different vehicles, presented in association with the Greenville Pickens Speedway, one of the oldest tracks in the NASCAR circuit.
Geico Insurance, which sponsors a NASCAR vehicle, brought the car to the South Carolina show. Two local car clubs, the Foothills Mustang Club and the Carolina Corvettes Club, also brought specialty vehicles to the show.
Packard says the event stands out in her mind as a distinctly family oriented auto show.
“We have a lot of families attending,” she says. “There a number that see this as a real family outing, and not just on the Sunday Family Day.”
Harrisburg: Selling show among distinguishing factorsUnique is not one of those words you want to banter about.
But in the case of the Pennsylvania Auto & Boat Show, based in Harrisburg, Penn., it’s appropriate, notably for the way the show is governed.
In fact, the Harrisburg Automotive Trade Association exists solely for the purpose of running the auto show, says Ray Bromley, the ATAE member who serves as its vice president.
“It is an unusual situation,” says Bromley, who admits the setup means he isn’t as active in ATAE as other members might be. “We don’t have education programs, facilities or staff.”
What they do have is an auto and boat show that takes up 280,000 square feet of the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex, a multi-building facility that Bromley says presents some challenges to decorators who have to deal with a - that word again - unique layout.
“Parts of the complex are very old,” says Bromley. “In some ways, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”
While many dealerships handle exhibits on their own, about half the manufacturers take an active role in managing their show presence, among them General Motors, which rents out half the main hall.
Add to the list of “different” characteristics of the show the fact that it’s a selling show, one of just a few where vehicles actually change hands.
However, Bromley says both manufacturers and members of the auto show committee have tended to de-emphasize the selling aspects, with fewer closing booths now in place. “When manufacturers pay for the space and run the show, they want to be building relationships, bringing in their own product specialists,” says Bromley. “Some frown upon a salesperson for the dealership being in the display area.”
On the other hand, dealerships that have a strong conversion van business are among those who do very well, he says, although for the most part “people would rather do business at the dealership.”
At the show, which is in its 33rd year, one of the features was a sanctioned Corvette Concours competition held on Saturday and Sunday.
There were also live motorcycle builds at the show, an antique vehicle and classic car display, and a collection of historic race cars, courtesy of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing.
A special promotion featured a tricked out Honda Civic Coupe that was given away at the show.
Phoenix: Convention center to doubleNo pain, no gain.
While the expression may be typically related to getting one’s body in shape, for Knox Ramsay, president of the Valley Auto Dealers Association, host of the Arizona International Auto Show, it’s all about the inconvenience that comes from a doubling of space at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“We’re in a state of transition,” says Ramsay, whose latest show operated out of three separate facilities as the first year of a three year construction project took place.
“We had to do a lot of work on signage, helping guide people through the three facilities,” says Ramsay.
In the end, the construction of a 15,000 square foot tented pavilion on a closed street adjacent to the convention center helped ease what might have been an even more crowded situation.
“Manufacturers were pleased with the space we had,” says Ramsay.
Featured at this year’s show were two Ride and Drive events, hosted by Ford and Chevrolet. “The way we configured the space, it was very easy for them to stage their vehicles and both manufacturers had very successful events.”
“It’s going to put us in a position to direct market to those individuals for next year’s show,” he adds. “We’ve discovered that a high percentage of those attending will come again in subsequent years.”
Looking ahead to those years, Ramsay says a revamped Phoenix Convention Center will include some 350,000 square feet of contiguous space, the result of a new building being linked to existing display space.
“Depending on how we lay out the show floor, we could have an additional 150,000 square feet available to us.”
Portland: Selling show expands aftermarket, adds exotics to the mixBigger and bigger. For the first time, the Portland International Auto Show took over the entire Oregon Convention Center, a fact that suits Barbara Pudney just fine.
The results, says Pudney, were just what organizers hoped for. “We were very pleased with the show.”
Indeed, the addition of 50,000 square feet to the show space coincided with a bump in attendance, which Pudney attributes to the aftermarket exhibit. The “Styling, Performance & Auto Accessories Showcase" was part of a “Motor Madness” area that included a motorcycle showcase and a display of exotic vehicles, including those from Ferrari, Maserati, Panoz and Spyker.
“People aren’t just coming for the 2007 models,” she says. “They’re looking for ways to customize and personalize their vehicles.”
About half the dealers at the event actually had closing booths at the show, although Pudney acknowledges that not every manufacturer embraces the idea of having salespeople in the exhibit area.
Still, show attendees know and expect to get a “special deal” at the auto show. And advertisements running a full month after often refer to the show.
For children, a “Kids Stop Pit Stop” included a “Kiddy Grand Prix” inflatable moon bounce, face painting, and a Saturday appearance by the Kader Klowns, part of the local Al Kader Shriners club.
Pudney says the intention has been for the Portland show to become an “all transportation” show (hence, the addition of motorcycles three years ago).
“We try to come up with new ideas all the time,” says Pudney, referring to what amounts to an annual process of reviewing and renewing the show. “We present them to the auto show committee and go from there. It’s a cooperative effort.”
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
3/23/2007 - 3/25/2007
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