ASNA Logo Volume 5, Issue 7 - July 2007
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the Auto Show Report
A compilation of news and developments for and about Auto Shows of North America. To find out more, visit

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Industry News
  • Toyota may add small vehicles to North American mix
  • Current Taurus lags in good looks department, say Ford execs
  • Ghosn uses the ‘R’ word
  • Head of Porsche U.S. heads to Audi
  • Automotive Hall of Fame Announces
        2008 Distinguished Service Citation Recipients, 2007 Industry Leader

    Show Profiles

  • Baltimore: New sponsorship helps give show a stir
  • Buffalo: Tropical theme warms up city; dealers see effects of show
  • Detroit: Show continues to redefine international aspect
  • Miami Beach: Weather, love of cars works every time
  • Montreal: Steady influx of visitors marks Canadian event
  • Omaha: Show builds momentum in the Heart of America
  • Portland: Green Oregonians still opt for trucks, SUVs

    Show Directory

  • Alphabetical listing of ASNA shows and dates for 2007-2008

    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.

    Toyota may add small vehicles to North American mix

    AutoWeek magazine has reported that Toyota may add two small vehicles to its U.S. lineup as a result of pressure to meet new fuel economy standards. The first is the Urban Cruiser, an entry-level crossover that Toyota will show in production form in March at the 78th Salon international de l’automobile in Geneva, Switzerland. The other is the A-BAT compact pickup hybrid that was shown as a concept in January at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. While the Urban Cruiser is being planned only for sale in Europe, Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, maintains there is room for both vehicles, although neither has been approved for U.S. sale. "As we look to 2020, when we have to get 35 miles per gallon (fleet-wide), that's a big challenge," Lentz told AutoWeek. The A-BAT has a four-foot bed for light-duty hauling, which may appeal to urban truck owners.

    Current Taurus lags in good looks department, say Ford execs

    It may not be politically correct if you’re a lowly employee, but seemingly it’s okay if you’re the boss. Hence, Ford CEO Alan Mulally likening the current Taurus (formerly the Ford Five Hundred, launched as a replacement to the Taurus) to an aging, balding Homer Simpson. Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s head of global product development, recently joined Mulally at an industry insider’s event in Detroit, both promising a new, nicer-looking Taurus is in the offing. "The new Taurus that you're going to see in the next year or so is the one we should have made originally," said Mulally. "It is just fabulous." Kuzak pointed to subtle differences that can make big differences when it comes to delivering a product. "That's only delivered when the engineering team does not dumb down the design because of engineering and manufacturing feasibility concerns." Ford is apparently becoming more candid when it comes to recognizing and fixing problems. "Something about Mulally's leadership has allowed people to be a little freer about their views," said Bear Stearns analyst Peter Nesvold.

    Ghosn uses the ‘R’ word

    The head of Nissan says the U.S. auto industry is in recession, even if the U.S. economy is not. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co., speaking to reporters in South Korea, said the high cost of materials represents risk for the industry, and must come down after increasing for four years. Ghosn, quoted by the Associated Press, added that the U.S. auto market "will not stay in recession for a long time." The Automotive News Data Center reported 2007 sales of 16.2 million cars and light trucks in the U.S., down 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

    Head of Porsche U.S. heads to Audi

    Peter Schwarzenbauer

    Peter Schwarzenbauer, the head of Porsche U.S., is taking over responsibility for sales and marketing at Audi, with one of his first goals being to increase sales in the U.S. Schwarzenbauer replaces Ralph Weyler, who is setting up his own consultancy, according to Audi. "Peter Schwarzenbauer is well-known for his sales expertise and, in particular, has an excellent understanding of the North American market. We want to grow strongly there in the coming years," Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in a statement. Schwarzenbauer's duties at Porsche will be handled by Detlev von Platen, currently managing director for Porsche France.

    Automotive Hall of Fame Announces
    2008 Distinguished Service Citation Recipients, 2007 Industry Leader

    The Automotive Hall of Fame (AHF) has announced its 2008 Distinguished Service Citation Recipients. The Distinguished Service Citation, initiated in 1949, recognizes an individual who has significantly improved the industry or their respective organizations. A recipient is either currently employed in the industry or recently retired. This year's recipients are: Susan M. Cischke, senior vice president, Sustainability, Environmental and Safety Engineering Ford Motor Company; Josephine S. Cooper, group vice president, Government and Industry Affairs, Toyota Motor North America; Ron Gettelfinger, president, International Union, UAW; Frederick A. Henderson, vice chairman and CFO, General Motors Corporation; David W. Hermance, executive director, Advanced Technology Vehicles, Toyota Technical Center U.S.A. (posthumously); David F. Mungenast, Sr., founder, Dave Mungenast Automotive Family (posthumously); Lyn St. James, auto racer, speaker, author, Lyn St. James Enterprises, Inc.

    Phil Brady

    The AHF also announced its 2007 Industry Leader of the Year Award, which is presented to a single individual each year who has demonstrated outstanding industry leadership. The 2007 Industry Leader is Phil Brady, president, National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

    Both the 2007 Distinguished Service Citation Recipients and 2007 Industry Leader awards were presented at the NADA's annual conference and exhibition in San Francisco.

    Baltimore: New sponsorship helps give show a stir

    Competition is good.

    Manufacturers have long understood how important the quality of their displays (and, of course, their products) are in attracting visitors to their exhibits. That's certainly the case with Cadillac, Dodge, Honda, Nissan and Toyota, among the key exhibitors at this season's Motor Trend International Auto Show - Baltimore.
    That’s what Peter Kitzmiller found out when the Maryland New Car & Truck Dealers Association went looking for media sponsor proposals for its Motor Trend International Auto Show-Baltimore, held Feb. 7-10.

    The long-standing relationship it had with the Baltimore Sun gave way to a proposal from the upstart Baltimore Examiner, a free distribution newspaper, and Comcast.

    Kitzmiller says it was producer Motor Trend that suggested opening up the opportunity to competition. And he’s glad they did.

    "We may have got a little stuck in our ways," says Kitzmiller. "The Baltimore Sun has always been a media sponsor, but Comcast and the Examiner came back with a strong package."

    Kitzmiller says the show will make the sponsorship review an annual exercise. "It seemed to work out. We had a lot more unpaid coverage than we had in the past."

    Results seem to speak for themselves: attendance was up some 4.2 percent over last year. Kitzmiller attributes the bump to a focus on advertising closer to the actual show. "We started five days before the show, concentrating more advertising."

    Weather was a cooperating factor, not like the slamming Baltimore got in 2006, which was followed by a resurgence in attendance.

    This year, the big news from Kitzmiller’s point of view was the success enjoyed with e-ticket sales.

    "We were up 35 percent over last year," he notes, adding that the show employed a new Website for the effort. "It blew me away how much it was increased. Almost every one was redeemed."

    Additional features included a Kid’s Day (Sunday, Feb. 10) and the traditional Motor Trend "College Two-Fer" promotion.

    There was also a display of exotic vehicles courtesy of the DuPont Registry.

    Kitzmiller pointed to an emphasis on green technology that served to entice show goers. "Every TV station did interviews on the subject,"he says. "Every interview I did focused on that."

    Kitzmiller says he’d like to see an expansion of Baltimore’s modest ride and drive program, although that may be more of a challenge given when and where the show is held. Still, he’s eyeing the possibility of using nearby Orioles Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, both within walking distance of the Baltimore Convention Center.

    "Manufacturers like the ride and drive concept," says Kitzmiller. "It’s something we need to explore."

    Kitzmiller also continues to face the challenge of space allocation. "We’re stressed to the seams with the convention center, which means we have to be creative on how we allocate space. It isn’t going to get any bigger."

    In the meantime, he’s especially pleased that manufacturers continue to recognize how important auto shows like Baltimore are to the sales process. "We’re also hoping that next year, business will be stronger and we won’t need to worry about that going forward."

    Profile: Motor Trend International Auto Show - Baltimore

    Feb. 7-10, 2008

    Next show:
    Feb. 5-8, 2009

    Baltimore Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    301,000 square feet

    Adults, $10; Seniors (62 plus), $6; Military, $6; Children (7-12) $4; under 6 free

    Show Hours:
    Thursday, noon-11 pm; Fri-Sat, 10 am-11 pm; Sun., 10 am-7 pm

    Produced by:
    Motor Trend Auto Shows

    Show Contact:
    Peter Kitzmiller, ATAE
    President, Maryland New Car & Truck Dealers Association, 410.269.1710

    Show Website:

    Discount coupons:
    $1 off on Web site

    Buffalo: Tropical theme warms up city; dealers see effects of show

    Trey Barrett knows for a fact the Buffalo Auto Show (held Feb. 6-10) is having its intended effect.

    Buffalo Sabre star Ryan Miller was on hand for autographs at the Buffalo Auto Show.

    "I can tell you, even without our firm numbers in, that attendance at the show was up slightly over last year," says Barrett. "Our dealers and their sales reps were very excited about the fact that the people at the show wanted to talk about cars, and the performance at the dealerships in the last couple of weeks has reinforced that."

    Knowing that Buffalo’s legendary winter weather is unlikely to change, organizers this year decided to bring a bit of the Caribbean north, adding a theme that spoke to the automotive enthusiast out there.

    "It was our CARibbean CARnival," notes Barrett. "We did out best to make it like you were walking into the tropics, with thatching on tables, palm trees and Caribbean music throughout the area. People working the show wore Hawaiian shirts and our TV, print and radio ads used the same theme."

    Barrett says the effort lent a feeling of warmth to the convention center.

    "We had a lot of positive feedback from everyone," says Barrett.

    Buffalo Sabre star Brian Campbell, who has since been traded to the San Jose Sharks, was also on hand for an autograph session.

    The initiative underscores the commitment of the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association, owners of the show, to working with the community in whatever way it can.

    Last year that was Winterfest, and although the event is no longer a reality in Buffalo, the auto show isn’t about to stop looking for ways to energize the downtown area.

    Indeed, it still remains a vibrant part of a community that has its share of auto manufacturing businesses, including a GM engine plant. Workers from the facility once again brought a display that included the breaking down and rebuilding of a working engine.

    For its part, Ford (which operates a nearby stamping plant), brought a shell of its Flex vehicle (last year it brought the shell of a Canadian-made Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX).

    And speaking of Canadians, Barrett says a near-par dollar brought more international visitors than ever before.

    Other repeat attractions included the "Wellness Lane" that included advice and exhibits on how to become more healthy.

    Robbie Knievel, son of the late Evel Knievel, participated in a raffle of a custom bike, all in support of Hunter's Hope, the charity memorializing the son of former Buffalo Bills player Jim Kelly.

    "Our industry has done a good job of conditioning owners to maintain their vehicles on a regular basis," notes Barrett. "We want to help encourage them to do the same with their bodies as well and the Wellness Lane was a good step in that direction."

    Bikers attending the show had their fix with the appearance of Robbie Knievel, one of Evel’s four sons. A custom motorcycle was raffled off to benefit Hunter’s Hope, the charity set up by former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill, to honor their late infant son, Hunter (diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy).

    An appearance by Buffalo Sabre hockey players Ryan Miller and Brian Campbell (who was acquired by the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 26, the final day of trading for the 2007-2008 season) rounded out the show.

    "We had throngs of people come out to see both these players," says Barrett.

    Profile: Buffalo Auto Show

    Feb. 6-10, 2008

    Next show:
    Feb. 4-8, 2009

    Buffalo Convention Center

    Exhibit space:
    110,000 square feet

    Adults, $8 at the door, $7 in advance; Family of four, $20

    Show hours:
    Wed.-Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-5 pm.

    Produced by:
    Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association

    Show contact:
    Paul Stasiak, ATAE
    President, Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association, 716.631.8510

    Show Website:

    Detroit: Show continues to redefine international aspect

    It’s an auto show that in many ways continues to define the industry while bringing an estimated $500 million in economic benefit to the Motor City.

    Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche and "Sex and the City" star Kim Cattrall appeared at the Mercedes-Benz press conference during Press Preview.

    A major point of every North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) event is the well-attended media preview days and this year, some 58 vehicle unveilings (44 of which were worldwide debuts). Those vehicle introductions are instrumental in attracting some 6,000 journalists from nearly 60 countries, says Rod Alberts, executive director of NAIAS, and of the sponsoring organization, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA). This year the show was held Jan. 14-27.

    "Clearly, the automotive industry has become increasingly international in scope, and this show occupies a very strategic spot on the auto show calendar as far as vehicle manufacturers are concerned," says Alberts. "Our job is to continue to make the Detroit show an attractive one for manufacturers who now introduce vehicles throughout the year, not just at one or two times on the calendar. We’re pleased to be a place they continue to see as being strategically significant to showcase their technology and innovation."

    A growing area of the world as far as auto manufacturing is concerned is the Far East; this year, some five Chinese manufacturers came to show their wares and Alberts expects that trend to continue.

    "We’re deliberately reaching out to international manufacturers who see Detroit as being a strategically very important place to connect with the North American market. That’s something we’re going to see more and more of in the years to come."

    Jeep's display at the North American International Auto Show included a rock climbing wall.

    While the public show continues to occupy an important spot on the calendar for people living in the Southeastern Michigan area (including nearby Ontario, Canada, on the border with Michigan), it’s arguably the events before the show itself that create the most buzz.

    Those include an annual Charity Preview black-tie gala, which raised more than $6 million for 12 children’s charities in the area. The sold-out event was further buoyed this year by the appearance of the Barenaked Ladies, a popular Canadian rock group.

    The show also boasts two dates set aside as Industry Preview, an opportunity for many of the suppliers to the auto industry to get up close and personal with vehicles they (and their competitors) helped build.

    Additional highlights include Racing Day, now in its third year. Some 68,000 visitors took their place at the starting line in pursuit of autographs from the stars of NASCAR, Indy Car and American LeMans, among them Bryan Herta Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr., Russ Wicks and Greg Biffle.

    During Auto Education Day at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, mascots from State Farm Insurance, the NFL Detroit Lions, the NBA Detroit Pistons and the Major League Baseball Detroit Tigers pose for a picture.

    As at other shows, Detroit’s NAIAS uses the event as an opportunity to court those who may be (or should be) considering a career. That included the 6,000 secondary education students who attended DADA’s Automotive Education Day, sponsored by manufacturers and educational institutions as well as American Red Cross, Society of Automotive Engineers’ "A World in Motion" program, and State Farm Insurance.

    The Detroit show has also become a spot where the politically active (or those who want to be) make an appearance. This year’s event included stops by Republican hopefuls Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Mitt Romney, as well as U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

    The show is also a stopping off point for entertainers, among them singers Bryan Adams, Mary J. Blige and Toby Keith. Also attending the show were celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, Monster Garage host Jesse James, Indy Car driver and "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves.

    NBA All-stars George "Iceman" Gervin, Willis Reed, Bill Walton, Spud Webb and Dominque Wilkins also appeared, along with actors Kim Cattrall, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, Drew Sidora and Lisa Vidal.

    Rounding out those who visited the NAIAS: heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield, hip-hop legend Funk Master Flex; media moguls Damon Dash and Russell Simmons and the Tonight Show’s Ross "the Intern" Matthews.

    Dodge got some help from longhorn steer while unveiling its new 2009 Ram pickup during Press Preview at Detroit's North American International Auto Show.

    Profile: North American International Auto Show

    Jan. 13-27, 2008

    Next show:
    Press Preview - Jan. 11-13, 2009
    Industry Preview - Jan. 14-15, 2009
    Charity Preview - Jan. 16, 2009
    Public show - Jan. 17-Jan. 25

    Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center, Detroit

    Exhibit Space:
    1 million square feet

    Adults, $12; Seniors (62 and over), $6; Children under 12 (accompanied by parent), free

    Show hours:
    9 am-10 pm, except Sun., Jan. 23: 9 am-7 pm. No admittance after 9 pm most days; no admittance after 6 pm on day of close.

    Produced by:
    NAIAS LLC, an association of Detroit auto dealers

    Show contact:
    Rod Alberts, ATAE
    Executive Director, Detroit Auto Dealers Association

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $8 per ticket for adults in a group of 25 or more.

    Miami Beach: Weather, love of cars works every time

    Ah, the weather.

    Increasingly, auto show attendees want more and more information on the vehicles they're seeing, including this example of a Toyota Tundra chassis, on display at the South Florida International Auto Show.

    Outdoor events like those increasingly popular Ride and Drives? No problem.

    Okay, just for the record, Cliff Ray is not rubbing it in, even though it’s seemingly the price of admission when it comes to hearing about the South Florida International Auto Show, held Nov. 9-18, 2007.

    But the event, owned and operated by the South Florida Auto-Truck Dealers Association and held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, has been able to spill out into the streets.

    This year that included once again closing off half of Convention Center Drive for the returning Camp Jeep feature. In addition, both GM and Hyundai returned with their own Ride and Drive events, taking up outdoor space on the east side of the building.

    The fact that both automakers are returning says it all.

    Alternative fuel vehicles such as Chevy's Equinox, powered by a fuel cell, are just what the public is eyeing these days.

    "I don’t think they’d be back if there wasn’t a good response from consumers," notes Ray.

    Also returning to the Miami Convention Center was the show’s Million Dollar Alley, a showcase for brands like Aston-Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati and Rolls-Royce.

    And while Ray is quick to point out that he represents new car dealers, there’s still a place for Memory Lane, where some 40 antique and classic cars, were on display, courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America, South Florida Region.

    Motorcyclists also had something to wish over, with models from Yamaha, Harley-Davidson and Suzuki, as well as conversion trikes on display.

    But what caught Ray’s attention was the proliferation of vehicles catering to those interested in alternative fuels, especially in times of high fuel prices.

    Predictably warm weather in Miami is an ideal setting for Camp Jeep.

    "Manufacturers were typically displaying those vehicles in their own area, but they do get a lot of media attention," says Ray. "It’s the wave of the future as people try to see what they can do to save money."

    While attendance at this year’s event was down as much as 6 percent, Ray says that "was a victory" compared to other public shows in the area where attendance has dropped as high as 30 percent.

    "Part of it is the economy,"he says. "Your expendable dollars aren’t going to be going out to events, but into your gas tank."

    So why the relative success for the auto show?

    "We were able to put together a family friendly event that still appeals to people," he says. "And unlike other cities where there is extensive mass transit available, basically you need a car to get around down here. And we have a good car public that loves coming to the auto show."

    Profile: South Florida International Auto Show presented by Allstate Insurance

    Nov. 9-18, 2007

    Next show:
    Nov. 7-16, 2008

    Miami Beach Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    600,000 square feet +

    Adults, $10; Children (6-12), $3

    Show Hours:
    Fri: 5 pm-midnight; Sat: 11 am-midnight; Sun: 11 am-11 pm; Mon-Thurs.: 2 pm-11 pm; Fri.: 2 pm-midnight (Veterans Day - Nov. 11 - open at 11 a.m.); Sat: 11 am-midnight; Sun.: 11 am-9 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Cliff Ray, show coordinator, 305.947.5950

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $2 off available at new car and truck dealerships, McDonald's in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties.

    Montreal: Steady influx of visitors marks Canadian event

    At one time Montreal may have been the largest Canadian city by population (it’s now Toronto) but that hasn’t stopped people like Denis Dessureault, who serves as executive director of the Montreal International Auto Show, held Jan. 18-27, from continuing to innovate.

    The Montreal International Auto Show attracts a good number of the Canadian city's car enthusiasts.

    Faced with a multi-level Palais de Congres facility, the show has seemingly perfected a new layout it instituted last year - taking visitors from the upper levels and threading them down to the ground floor.

    The so-called "Seventh Heaven" display of exotics was also brought back. "It was just as popular," says Dessureault.

    While attendance was off slightly (about 1 percent), Dessureault says the auto show remains a popular event in the Montreal region, although he does say the entrenchment of the Internet as an automotive sales tool can’t be overstated.

    "That’s our main competitor,"he says. "People are going online to shop, but we say there’s nothing like the touch and feel of a vehicle, which keeps people coming to the auto show."

    A charity preview event in Montreal has raised more than $1.4 million for health care facilities in the area since it began some four years ago.

    This year, weather was not a factor. But where attendance typically drops is in the weekday numbers.

    Marketing the show in Montreal involves heavy media buys - particularly in outdoor media such as billboards and transit, but also radio stations and the three major daily newspapers in the city.

    "During auto show week we’re everywhere," says Dessureault. "The theme this year was ‘Selling the Dream’ - a little guy who’s seeing the clouds forming a car and wants to grab it."

    Auto show organizers like Diane Belair, the ATAE who serves as executive vice president of the Montreal Automobile Dealers Corporation, sit on a marketing committee that Dessureault says "gives us a chance to think outside the box. We all contribute to the process and the result is a nice mix."

    One of the initiatives this year - the 40th year for the event - was a display of vintage (yes, 1968 is now in that category) vehicles with their 2008 equivalent, among them the ubiquitous VW Beetle.

    "The baby boomers especially liked that one," says Dessureault.

    Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian federal transportation minister, used the Montreal International Auto Show as a backdrop for a speech urging harmonization of emissions legislation among North American jurisdictions.

    Montreal is among a growing number of cities in North America where consumers want "green" options for meeting their transportation needs.

    The solution: for the auto show it was the "En Route to a Greener Future" display, a backdrop for an appearance by two of Canada’s prominent politicians: Federal Environment Minister John Baird and Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon, who was advocating a harmonizing of emissions rules.

    Montreal became the setting for the Canadian introduction of an all electric roadster from Tesla. The unveiling was part of more than 40 such introductions, including 34 Canadian unveilings and five concept vehicles.

    This year’s Charity Preview evening, which last year raised more than a quarter million dollars for health care facilities in the area, did even better - more than $400,000, for a four year total of more than $1.4 million.

    Add a blood drive total of more than 1,045 donations, and it’s clear that the Montreal International Auto Show is very much a community event in addition to being a great showcase for what the auto industry has to offer.

    Profile: Montreal International Auto Show

    Jan. 18-27, 2008

    Next show:
    Jan. 16-25, 2009

    Palais de Congres, Montreal

    Exhibit Space:
    375,000 square feet

    Mon.-Thurs.: $12 adults (over 13), $5 children (6-12), free under 6. $30 family pass (two adults, two children) Fri-Sun.: $15 adults, $5 children, $34 family pass

    Show Hours:
    10am-10 pm (closing at 8 pm last day of show)

    Show Contact:
    Diane Belair, ATAE
    Executive Vice President, Montreal Automobile Dealers Corporation 514.331.6571 ext. 227

    Show Website:

    Omaha: Show builds momentum in the Heart of America

    A life of its own.

    The outrageously compact Smart Car gets a close look by attendees of the Midlands International Auto Show in Omaha.

    That’s how Tam Webb, coordinator of the Midlands International Auto Show describes how the annual event, held Jan. 24-27, has become a part of the fabric of the Omaha area.

    Co-owned by the Nebraska New Car and Truck Dealers Association and the Omaha World-Herald (Webb is an employee of the newspaper), in 2004 the show moved from the Civic Center to its current home in the Qwest Center, the result being a dramatic increase in both space (100,000 square feet then; 194,000 now) and attendance.

    Webb, who has done the show for seven years, still remembers how cramped things were in the Civic Center. "We had every nook and cranny occupied. The Qwest Center is a very nice facility, but we’re still completely sold out."

    The most recent show was one where Webb was faced with high expectations, having previously brought in the popular characters from Pixar Animation’s Cars - including Lightning McQueen, Mater and Sally. "It was a big draw for families," she adds.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s famous 88 racecar appeared at the Midlands International Auto Show, courtesy of his sponsor, the National Guard.

    This year’s draw was the result of a surprise phone call - from the National Guard.

    "They asked how they might get involved," recalls Webb. That involvement translated into the Guard bringing in one of NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 vehicles along with a Patriot Chopper, one of the motorcycles built by Orange County Choppers for the American Chopper TV show.

    The Midlands show also continues to distinguish itself with the Make a Wish Foundation, the third year a local Pontiac dealer has donated a vehicle to raise funds. "The show pays all the administrative costs of the raffle and all the money goes to ‘Make a Wish’," says Webb, adding that the National Guard also gets involved, bringing its Young Hero awards program to the show.

    This year’s auto show included the display of several customized vehicles now owned by NFL players as well as a number of classics.

    Webb says growth in the auto show has come as the result of a steady effort among organizers to boost its visibility. "Certainly there’s been a sense of growth among manufacturers who see Omaha as a place that they want to reach. We’re not LA or Phoenix, but it’s a growing market and we’re getting calls from people we’ve never got calls from before."

    Heisman Trophy winner Vince Young's 2007 Dodge Charger was among several vehicles owned by professional football players on display at the Midlands International Auto Show.

    A big help in that regard, Webb says, is the local media. "They treat it as a major event."

    In Omaha, an economy that’s based on services - including banking and insurance (notably Mutual of Omaha) - means being somewhat insulated from the ups and downs other markets that rely heavily on manufacturing might experience.

    "We’re pretty steady here," notes Webb.

    It’s an environment that she says presents its share of surprises, particularly among visitors to the area.

    "People will say, ‘I can’t believe how busy the show is,’" says Webb. "And those show attendees are definitely in the market for a vehicle."

    That assessment is borne out by feedback from dealers, she adds. "Many people leave the show floor and go straight to the dealer to buy."

    Profile: Midlands International Auto Show

    Jan. 24-27, 2008

    Next show:
    Jan. 22-25, 2009

    Qwest Center Omaha

    Exhibit Space:
    194,300 square feet

    Adults, $8; Children, Seniors and Military personnel with ID 7-12, $5; Free, ages 6 and under.

    Show Hours:
    Thursday: 11am – 9pm, Friday and Saturday: 10am – 10pm, Sunday: 10am – 6pm

    Produced by:
    Nebraska New Car and Truck Dealers Association and the Omaha World-Herald

    Show Contact:
    Tam Webb,
    Omaha World-Herald, 402.444.3125

    Show Website:

    Discount coupons:
    Available at participating dealer locations and in the Omaha World-Herald special section that runs before the event.

    Portland: Green Oregonians still opt for trucks, SUVs

    It wasn’t the weather. It was the threat.

    Show goers at the Portland International Auto Show were asked to guess "make and model" in a popular on site crushed car cube contest.

    So says Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Portland, Oregon, International Auto Show, held Jan. 24-27, who nevertheless was grateful for a gate that was up slightly over last year.

    "We’re thrilled with it," says Remensperger. "Every single day of the show, we had the threat of snow, frozen roads and closures. It wasn’t a question of getting to the show; it was whether you could get home."

    With virtually every broadcast outlet telling motorists to "stay at home," Remensperger says "it was huge" that the show maintained its momentum.

    One factor contributing to the attendance success was a marketing mix that de-emphasized billboards and focused instead on transit - both light rail and buses.

    And then there were the e-tickets.

    A Lamborghini might not be for everyone, but auto show attendees still like to dream.

    "We had a big push there," says Remensperger, who leveraged the e-mail strategy by connecting with corporations the auto show has partnered with in the past. "We had a number of group ticket initiatives and also worked with our list of e-mails that we’ve collected in past years."

    Once visitors arrived at the auto show, they weren’t disappointed. One notable highlight - and juxtaposition - was the arrival of two new Portland area dealers, one selling Mercedes’ Smart brand; the other Lamborghini.

    "We put them side by side, which got people talking," says Remensperger.

    In particular, the arrival of Smart must have resounded with the Portland market, which is decidedly green in nature. (According to Remensperger, Oregonians buy more hybrids than any other state in the U.S..)

    Yet state residents also buy more SUVs and trucks than cars.

    A wide variety of vehicles were on display at the Portland show.

    "It’s an interesting market," says Remensperger. "We have a geography that ranges from high desert to mountains, and we get a good amount of snow on a regular basis, with weather conditions and driving conditions that lend more to four-wheel drive."

    With the average family being larger and workers who need the pulling or hauling power of a truck or SUV, there are still those who delight in being a little more kind to the environment.

    "For those reasons, Chevrolet got a very strong response from its hybrid Tahoe and Ford with its Hybrid Escape," says Remensperger. "A lot of the crossover vehicles were well received as well."

    The green theme was underscored with displays from Portland-based Eco-Motion, whose 100 percent electric vehicles (including cars, trucks, motorcycles and Segway-like personal transportation vehicles), caused quite a stir.

    The auto show’s past emphasis with the aftermarket was repeated this year; in fact, the area was increased from 40,000 to 55,000 square feet.

    An increasing interest in customizing vehicles has led to areas like this at the Portland International Auto Show.

    "Marketing to a younger demographic paid off very well," says Remensperger. "We could see it, watching the ticket gates and seeing how long they were lingering in the area.

    One exhibitor, BTL Auto Sports and Off Road, took some 7,500 square feet of space, showcasing vehicles that had previously appeared at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

    A distinctive feature of the Portland International Auto Show is the fact that selling is permitted (only a few others, notably Louisville and Harrisburg, Penn., do the same). This year, however, show organizers decided to smooth the edges somewhat, taking the selling booths off the floor.

    "We had them rent rooms if they wanted to actually sell vehicles at the show," says Remensperger. "there were no transactions taking place on the floor itself."

    And the reaction?

    "There was a noticeable difference in displays and floor layout," says Remensperger."Everyone was very pleased with the change."

    Profile: Portland International Auto Show

    Jan. 24-27, 2008

    Next show:
    Feb. 5-8, 2009

    Oregon Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    450,000 square feet

    Adults $10; Seniors, $8; Children (7-12), $5; 6 & under free

    Show Hours:
    Sunday, 10 am-7 pm; balance of show, 10 am-10 pm

    Show Contact:
    Greg Remensperger, ATAE
    Executive Vice President
    Oregon Auto Dealers Association
    Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association, 503.233.5044

    Show Website:

    Auto Shows of North America Show Directory

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    Empire State Plaza Auto Show
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    New Mexico International Auto Show
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    Orange County Auto Show
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    Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show
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    Austin American Statesman Auto Show
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    Baltimore International Auto Show
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    Alabama International Auto Show
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    New England International Auto Show
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    Buffalo Auto Show
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    Calgary International Auto & Truck Show
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    West Virginia International Auto Show
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    Charlotte International Auto Show
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    Chicago Auto Show
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    Cincinnati Auto Expo
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    Cleveland Auto Show
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    Columbus International Auto Show
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    Dallas Auto Show
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    Iowa/Illinois Regional Auto Show
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    Dayton Auto Show
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    Denver Auto Show
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    North American International Auto Show
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    Edmonton Motor Show
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    Fort Worth
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    Central California International Auto Show
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    South Carolina International Auto Show
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    Harrisburg, PA
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    Connecticut International Auto Show
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    First Hawaiian International Auto Show
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    Houston Auto Show
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    Indianapolis Auto Show
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    Kansas City
    Greater Kansas City International Auto Show
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    Las Vegas
    Las Vegas International Auto Show
    11/28/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Los Angeles
    Los Angeles Auto Show
    11/19/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Louisville Auto Show and Sale
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    South Florida International Auto Show
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    Midland, Mich.
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    Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
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    Minneapolis/St. Paul
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    Montreal International Auto Show
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    New Orleans
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    Midlands International Auto Show
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    Central Florida International Auto Show
    11/26/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Philadelphia International Auto Show
    2/2/2008 - 2/10/2008

    Arizona International Auto Show
    11/27/2008 - 11/30/2008

    Pittsburgh International Auto Show
    4/17/2008 - 4/21/2008

    Portland International Auto Show
    11/22/2009 - 11/25/2009

    Northeast International Auto Show
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    Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show
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    Rochester International Auto Show
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    Sacramento International Auto Show
    11/6/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Saint Louis
    Saint Louis International Auto Show
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    Salt Lake City
    Utah International Auto Expo
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    San Antonio
    San Antonio Auto & Truck Show
    10/2/2008 - 10/5/2008

    San Diego
    San Diego International Auto Show
    12/31/2008 - 1/4/2009

    San Jose
    Silicon Valley International Auto Show
    1/8/2009 - 1/11/2009

    Seattle International Auto Show
    10/31/2007 - 11/4/2007

    Spokane International Auto Show
    2/15/2008 - 2/17/2008

    Tampa Bay International Auto Show
    11/6/2008 - 11/9/2008

    Greater Toledo Auto Show
    1/22/2009 - 1/25/2009

    Canadian International Auto Show
    2/15/2008 - 2/24/2008

    Vancouver International Auto Show
    3/29/2008 - 4/6/2008

    Washington Auto Show
    2/4/2009 - 2/8/2009


    Automotive Trade Association Executives
    8400 Westpark Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    703.556.8581 - fax

    Kevin Mazzucola, ATAE President

    Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director

    ASNA Focus Group Steering Committee
    Mike Gempp, Philadelphia International Auto Show
    Holly Riedel, Greater Milwaukee Auto Show
    John Sackrison, Orange County Auto Show
    Shayne Wilson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show

    The Auto Show Report
    Joe Rohatynski, senior editor

    J.D. Booth, editor

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