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.
Automotive Hall of Fame announces inducteesEight automotive luminaries, among them Formula 1 Driver Phil Hill, Motorola founder Paul Galvin and his son Bob, are among those to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in October. The list, announced at a meeting of the International Motor Press Association in New York, held in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show, also includes the late Bob Irvin, an automotive journalist who worked for The Detroit News, Automotive News and AutoWeek; William Metzger, Detroit's first auto dealer; Jack Telnack, the chief designer of Ford who led the development of the original Taurus; Mort Schwartz, an industry notable who organized the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium; and pioneer automaker John North Willys. The induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 7, 2008 at the Hotel Ritz, not far from the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich.
Leases on the rise in face of long purchase contractsDealers and automakers are promoting leases as a way to lower payments, especially in the face of longer consumer loans. The efforts appear to be working: in 2007, J.D. Power and Associates said leases represented 19.3 percent of new-vehicle sales; in the first two months of 2008, that rate rose to 21.7 percent. On the buying side, the average new-vehicle loan increased from 61 months in 2003 to 64 months last year.
Toyota cuts production of big vehiclesIt's seen as a rare move, but Toyota is cutting production of its Tundra pickups and Sequoia SUVs in Indiana and Texas. Softer sales are being cited by the automaker, which will slow down the production cycle. The Sienna minivan, built on a separate line in Princeton, Indiana, is not affected by the slowdown.
Automotive X Prize to begin next year in NYThe X Prize Foundation, which made headlines for its $10 million space flight competition, is putting up an equal amount for the development of a 100 mpg vehicle. The first stage of the competition will begin in New York next year. The announcement was made at the New York International Auto Show. More than 60 teams - none of them representing the world's major automakers - have signed up for the event. Progressive Insurance has signed up as title sponsor, funding the $10 million prize.
Comings and goingsMark C. McNabb, who returned to Nissan last July as senior vice president of sales and marketing, is leaving on April 1. Nissan cited personal reasons in a release. Brian Carolin, currently senior vice president, sales and marketing, Nissan Europe, will succeed McNabb and be based at the company's headquarters in Tennessee.
Charleston: Show extends its geographic reach, attendance growsChalking up a single-digit increase in attendance at the West Virginia International Auto Show, especially following last year's 25 percent increase, has Ruth Lemmon smiling.
"Each year we go a little farther out geographically," says Lemmon, who heads the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association. The reason? Quite simply, Lemmon, her staff and show producer Motor Trend, have come to trust the exit survey data.
"When we look at the surveys, we see they're driving farther to get to the show, some even beyond two hours.?"
Lemmon also credits Jimmy Angellino of National Convention Services, the show's new decorator, for helping give the event a fresh look.
Angellino says NCS saw the opportunity of working with the West Virginia Show (they've already been asked back next year) as key to its diversification. "Our goal is to become more than just a freight moving company," he says. "With West Virginia, we wanted to make the show a little more exciting than the typical decorating job might be."
Another highlight of the auto show was the VIP reception that raises funds for Hospice of West Virginia.
"The event is very well supported by the entire community," says Lemmon.
Returning to the show was the 15,000-square-foot "Luxury Loft," located on the second floor of the Charleston Civic Center and showcasing vehicles from Audi, Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz among others.
The Mustang Club of West Virginia came through with a collection of vintage pony cars; Pam Lambert brought a collection of vintage Chevrolet Corvettes; and the Golden Oldies Street Rod Association displayed several of their classics as well.
Additional highlights included promotions such as the "Two-Fer" (buy one, get one free admission for college students). There was also a discount program with One Stop, offering a buy one, get one free coupon with the purchase of eight gallons of fuel.
An ongoing challenge, although certainly not unique to Charleston, is the amount of space available to the auto show. "It's our biggest issue," says Lemmon, who says any additional space is likely at least a few years away.
In the meantime, she's working to continue building on the momentum of the last few years.
Chicago: Show meets space shift challenge, survives frigid weatherCertainly, last year's decision by General Motors to dramatically increase its space at the Chicago Auto Show was something to which Jerry Cizek was looking forward.
"We had to move 17 other exhibitors," notes Cizek. "Initially, there was some concern as to how that would work out and there were questions, but we made a point of talking to all of them and everyone was very pleased with the results."
One of the factors was making sure exhibitors whose displays were built for a back wall were accommodated appropriately.
"VW, BMW and Audi in particular have back wall displays, and Kia has a huge back wall. We had to key on where we wanted to place them," says Cizek.
On the attendance front, Cizek says a frigid first weekend was tough, but that quickly rebounded, the end result being a slight uptick over last year.
The challenge, then, is to concentrate on building weekday attendance.
"We do that through various promotions and discounted tickets which can't be redeemed on weekends. Even in interviews, when we're asked the best time to come, the answer is always: 'during the week.'"
All in all, Cizek says he was pleased with the gate numbers.
"We would have been happy to stay where we were, but we're very pleased it ended up where it did."
"A lot of people lose track of the fact that it's about moving cars," he says. "Dealer employees play an active role in manning the booths and dealers look forward to having a show at this time of the year."
One interesting development is one the Chicago Auto Show instituted that allows exhibitors to show one "certified" used vehicle in their line-up, a reflection of the current market conditions.
"Sales of certified used vehicles are way up here in Chicago," says Cizek. "When manufacturers came to us and said this was a way for them to call attention to the fact that their cars are reliable, we responded."
Highlights of this year's Chicago Auto Show included a partnership with Mother Proof, a Colorado-based organization that promotes "family friendly" vehicles.
From Cizek's perspective, the initiative is a tangible way to boost the percentage of female attendees. "Even though we know and understand the influence women have in a vehicle purchase decision, we're trying to make it easier for them."
The Chicago Auto Show continued with its "Best of Show" competition, this year's top honors going to the Dodge Challenger.
Other category winners included the Cadillac CTS Coupe (Best Concept), the Challenger (Best World Introduction) and Chevrolet (Best Exhibit).
The show's "First Look for Charity" event repeated its success of previous years, raising more than $2.8 million and giving away three vehicles. The fact that show chairman Bob Loquercio has dealerships for Hyundai, Scion and Toyota was likely influential in the choice of vehicles: a 2008 Hyundai Veracruz, a 2008 Scion xD and a 2009 Toyota Corolla.
Organizations benefiting from the event included:
Advocate Hope Children's Hospital, Autism Speaks, Boys & Girls Cubs of Chicago, Campagna Academy, Cancer Health Alliance of Metropolitan Chicago, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, Children's Memorial Hospital, Clearbrook, The Cradle Foundation, Franciscan Community Benefit Services, Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities,Ronald McDonald House Charities, Misericordia Heart of Mercy, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Spina Bifida Association of Illinois and St. Coletta's of Illinois Foundation.
Cizek lauded McCormick Place caterers for creating a standout menu for the event. "It was like having dinner out."
Edmonton: Show sizzles, market expandsFor those who operate in markets where auto sales continue to suffer, this might be a time to break for a coffee.
The reason? Edmonton, capital city of Alberta, a province with no debt that sits on proven oil and gas reserves greater than those in Saudi Arabia (yes, really), is booming when it comes to the automotive market.
And that makes the Edmonton Motor Show, held Feb. 28-March 2, 2008, one of the bright spots on the continent, certainly so in the eyes of Bob Vilas, who heads the Edmonton Motor Dealers Association, owners of the event.
More space? No problem.
Edmonton is undergoing a doubling of the Northlands AgriCom facility, one that will take the auto show from its current 245,000 square feet to the full half million it will have by 2010.
In fact, if one were to look for a negative, it might be the expected expansion woes the auto show has had to undergo, to the point where any outdoor activities - the show had Toyota's Off-Road On-Site Adventure last year - were set aside due to construction around the site.
Vilas is using this period of relative "pain for future gain" to plan ahead, notably with manufacturers who've been clamoring for more space.
"We've already sold most of the extra space," says Vilas. "It's our way of being proactive in dealing with the expansion, providing manufacturers with a presentation that gives them a picture of what to expect."
Vilas' vision is a show that will be "SEMA-like," referring to the wildly popular Specialty Equipment Market Association extravaganza in Las Vegas. The difference, of course, is that unlike SEMA, the auto show will be open to the general public.
By 2010, Vilas expects the aftermarket section to include five distinct sections - tires and wheels, electronics, restyling, truck accessories, and power and performance.
Vilas says that while Edmonton dealers already sell more trucks than any market in Canada, the market is also home to several top dealers in the country, among them Kia, Nissan, Toyota and Dodge.
"Our market has been very much affected by the growth in Alberta," he says. "The strong economy has meant the show has grown as well. A lot of people here are buying."
Indeed, eight years ago there were 65 dealers in the market. Today, there are 82.
Saturn sponsored a "Kiss Your Astra" contest, a marathon event that saw the winner pucker up for some five hours and 43 minutes, taking the Sunday "kiss off."
But there was more. Much more. Vilas says manufacturers stepped up to the plate with some terrific content to display at the Edmonton Motor Show. "It was a year where we had a lot of sizzle."
It was also one where more people attended the show - the second best year ever and five percent more than last year.
Honolulu: High fuel prices give show green spinWith gas prices now officially having broken through the $4 a gallon barrier (on Maui), Dave Rolf of the First Hawaiian International Auto, held March 6-9, 2008, says it's no wonder much of the attention was focused on hybrid technology and other strategies for saving fuel.
"We knew there was an awful lot of interest in fuel economy issues, but manufacturer reps were telling us that 95 percent of the discussions were starting with gas mileage."
Which is just fine with Rolf. "The auto show is an ideal place for car buyers to compare technology."
Indeed, Rolf thinks the next five years will bring more change than the previous 100.
The auto show is doing its part to showcase technology about to or soon to hit dealer showrooms, including hybrids like Chevrolet's Tahoe. "You have this Moby-sized vehicle that gets outstanding mileage, the same kind as you'd expect from a smaller car. It's amazing."
Highlights of this year's show included the return of Bentley as an exhibitor in the exotics section of the event, bringing a $215,000 model that attendees gazed at longingly. "It was three to four people deep on a regular basis," notes Rolf.
Another perennial feature of the show is the Teacher of the Year, which involves the free use of a vehicle for a year. In earlier years, the promotion honored seven teachers, making this year the point where a total of 50 cars have been presented, with past honorees also featured in a large display at the entrance to the show.
"We've received a tremendous amount of exposure for the program over the years," says Rolf, referring to the vehicle and its 'apple' insignia on both sides with the mention of the dealer association having donated the first year lease (most recipients take over the lease on their own).
"That tickled a lot of people I spoke to," he says. "It was a fabulous promotion."
The show also featured a preview night, this year attracting more than 400 dealers, associate members, legislators and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
Rolf also points to extensive media coverage of the show in helping drive attendance.
"We had more than 90 minutes of morning and evening news coverage and more than 45 radio interviews from the floor of the show."
Salt Lake City: Clicking then, accelerating nowLast year, Craig Bickmore said the Utah International Auto Expo was "starting to click."
"We were absolutely deluged with snow," says Bickmore, who runs the Utah Automobile Dealers Association. "That was a 30 percent hit for us on that day."
Still, attendance was so strong on Friday and Saturday that the auto show came out almost even.
"We were accelerating our way to a record attendance before the snow arrived," says Bickmore, who credits a continued strong support from the entire media community in Salt Lake City for the popularity of the show.
"They like being a part of it and they understand the impact the industry has," says Bickmore. "The entire media community comes together in support of the auto show."
Other highlights included a special display of two customized Highway Patrol vehicles - a customized 2002 Chevrolet Camaro and a restored 1950 Ford Custom 2-door sedan - both courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol Public Information and Education as an effort to promote greater traffic safety in Utah. "In 2007 Utah had a high number of over 280 fatal traffic accidents. Our hope is to decrease this number through community education and awareness," said Sergeant Blaine Robbins of the Utah Highway Patrol.
The fifth-annual Utah International Auto Expo VIP Preview Party featured a performance by Governor Huntsman and his band "Politically Incorrect."
The event continues to support the auto dealers' "Good Wheels" program, distributing more than $250,000 in the last six years to various individuals and organizations and providing funding for additional Highway Patrol troopers to be on the road looking for impaired drivers during the holiday season.
Toronto: Strong promotions, good weather delivers breakthrough yearTom Tonks calls the 2008 Canadian International Auto Show, held in Toronto Feb. 15-24, 2008, a "breakthrough."
But clearly that alone wouldn't make the Toronto show one of the key events on the auto show calendar.
It may more likely be the fact that Tonks capitalizes on a key fact: the capital city of Canada's most populous province is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country, and quite possibly in North America.
And Tonks targets them all.
"We have between five and eight different promotions going on," he notes. "Each of them is targeted at a different media grouping, and each of those has special demographics, some ethnic, some economic. As a result, we've pretty much covered all of the social and economic demographics."
Tonks has also honed a number of giveaways, which he then leverages with the media the auto show uses to promote the event.
"It's very much a win-win-win across the board," says Tonks, who attributes a steady increase - 9 percent over last year - at least in part to promotions of this nature.
"We spend more than $1 million on media," he adds.
Another reason for the boost in attendance may be the advent of a new legal holiday in Ontario. Family Day, which was widely recognized (schools, banks and many businesses were closed, although federal workers were still on the job), gave Tonks and his team the opportunity to develop special pricing to boost what would have otherwise been an ordinary Monday.
"We gave the first 5,000 visitors a free program, and the first 2,000 families received a Mattel Hot Wheels car," he says. "Plus we had a pizza special specifically geared to families."
The auto show also extended its customary weekend programs, which feature childcare services and free parking as well as shuttle bus service.
"We did have some deterioration in the numbers of people who attended after we raised the price," admits Tonks. "But we made up for it in overall revenue."
And one important point: the $20 ticket is before discounts.
"There have always been a parallel group of discounts," says Tonks. "Everyone has ample opportunity to get a discounted admission. We may have the highest price but we probably have one of the highest discounts - $5 off a ticket."
The rationale for the higher ticket price was to position the auto show in the category of other forms of entertainment - many of them costing much more.
"At the same time, you've got to be careful about being too cavalier," cautions Tonks. "There are other factors at work as well."
Still, Tonks says the higher ticket prices did not result in a dramatic drop-off in attendance. "There was a bit of slippage, but the new price is well established now and having a diversity of programs at the show has helped."
Toronto is also eyeing the public policy landscape when it considers adding features to the show.
This year that included a special GTA in Motion (the region is known as the Greater Toronto Area), which brought in students from the local Humber College School of Design, who showcased various auto-related solutions to urban transportation challenges.
"It's our way of trying to address the issues of urban sprawl and traffic congestion," says Tonks. "Our point is that the automobile is part of the solution, not the problem."
The Canadian International Auto Show, as it has in the past, also featured its VIP preview evening, complete with three different musical acts, including Bedouin Soundclash, the Quintessential Boys and April Wine.
Washington: Show continues to be forum for green discussionLike it or not, public policy debate in the United States remains firmly centered in Washington, D.C., one reason Gerry Murphy is continuing to position the Washington Auto Show, held Jan. 23-27, 2008, as one where key discussions and interactions take place.
"That's especially true among the offices of the various OEMs," he adds. "They're very supportive of rolling out a Tier One global auto show that can support dialogue among industry and members of Congress as well as the public policy establishment."
Murphy says recent discussions around the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) are a perfect example, the idea being that having legislators and regulators aware of industry concerns is key to the overall health of the auto industry.
An even bigger part of that is a continuing move to green technology, again one where the auto industry has an obvious contribution to make when it comes to helping shape public policy.
Murphy saw clear evidence of that interest at this year's auto show.
"We had cabinet secretaries and agency heads as well as their staff come over during the media days for VIP tours," he says.
This year's show included the Green Car Journal's Green Car Summit, a one day media day event that included several noted auto industry panelists, among them: Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Co.'s senior vice president of sustainability, environment, and safety engineering; Gregory Cesiel, fuel cell vehicles program director at General Motors; Reg Modlin, director of environmental and energy planning at Chrysler; Tom Stricker, director of technical and regulatory affairs, environment at Toyota; and David Geanacopoulos, director of industry-government relations at Volkswagen of America.
"Activities unfolding in the automakers' labs and in the showroom provide a convincing argument that great effort is being made to meet these challenges," says Cogan. "What's often missing is context - the realities of how and when advanced technologies and alternative fuels will make it to market in meaningful ways, and which really offer the greatest potential for change."
Murphy says another key area where the Washington Auto Show is playing a role is providing an opportunity for embassies to launch discussions with legislators and regulators, something Germany started a year ago and continued this year.
"Right now the regulations don't encourage it," says Murphy.
Highlights of this year's show included a Media Day keynote presentation by Mark LaNeve, GM?s North American vice president of vehicles sales, service and marketing, who discussed the company's deployment of more than 100 Chevrolet Equinox electric vehicles (powered by hydrogen fuel cells) in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
This year's show, running on the heels of Detroit's North American International Auto Show, meant Washington didn't benefit as much from the usual practice - having vehicles introduced in the Motor City, flat-bedded then moved to Washington.
"Congress will be in session and that will help us."
It will also be a time when a new administration will be trying to define itself, especially in the areas of transportation and energy, notes Murphy.
"Next year will be very interesting in that regard."
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/4/2008 - 4/6/2008
Salt Lake City
Credits/Contacts: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
The Auto Show Report
J.D. Booth, editor