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.
ASNA Summer Meetings set for July 15-16Auto Shows of North America will hold its annual Summer Meetings July 15-16, 2008, at the renown La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. A reception will be held Tues. evening, July 15; the meetings on Wed., July 16. For more information please visit www.atae.info or contact Jill Goldfine, ATAE meetings & conference manager, at 703.821.7070.
Jackson: First-ever show three years in the planningWhen Bill Lehman, ATAE of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers' Association, got wind three years ago that there would be a newly constructed convention center in the state capital, he put on his planning hat.
As Lehman explains, having a space big enough for an auto show was the critical "first step." He expects what will be a very good show in its first year to be "a great show" as the event grows into its space.
That will include eventually expanding into the adjacent Mississippi Telecommunications Conference & Training Center, which means the initial 85,000 square feet could ultimately become about 130,000 square feet in total.
Motor Trend Auto Shows will produce the event.
Hyundai to scrap Tiburon
Ford surprises analysts with 1Q profitFord Motor Co. exceeded analyst expectations by posting net income of $100 million in the first quarter of 2008. Its 20 cents a share was in sharp contrast to an expected loss of 16 cents. Ford said the improvement (it had posted a loss of $282 million a year ago) was due to cost reductions, including lower structural and product costs. CEO Alan Mulally said the company is continuing to work through its turnaround plan. "Going forward, we remain committed to our key business objectives, including our goal of reaching North America and overall automotive profitability in 2009 despite the challenging economic conditions."
Austin announces new show datesThe Austin Auto Show, officially known as the StatesmanCars Auto Show, has changed its upcoming dates from December 2008, to April 17-19, 2009. Presented by the Austin Auto Dealers Association, the show is held at the Austin Convention Center. For more information contact Jennifer A. George, show manager, 512.479.0425.
Comings and goingsDavid Barnas, the third Chrysler PR executive to leave the now-privately held automaker, is joining a Saginaw-based spinoff of Delphi Corp. Barnas told The Detroit News he was leaving on good terms. "I'm running to an opportunity, not running away from anything," he was quoted as saying. "I'll miss my friends at Chrysler." Other PR execs having left Chrysler since it went private include Jason Vines, former VP, now at Compuware Corp., and Mike Aberlich, who retired.
General Motors has hired Mark McNabb, the Nissan head of sales who left in March, to lead sales at Cadillac, Hummer and Saab, a move that sees a realignment of the company's U.S. marketing strategy. As part of the reorganization, GM will distribute eight brands through four channels.
GM is also promoting a regional manager to lead the Buick-Pontiac-GMC business, while Chevrolet and Saturn will each remain under separate leadership, a move the automaker hopes will help differentiate its eight U.S. divisions and improve dealer profits.
General managers for Saab, Hummer and Cadillac will retain their positions and report to McNabb. Jill Lajdziak remains general manager of Saturn.
The moves take effect June 1.
Albany: Push free gas and they'll come in drovesYes, it's the capital city of one of America's most populous states. But even Kim Perrella of the Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers admits that Albany, N.Y., is not the biggest when it comes to auto shows.
Little wonder then that Perrella was surprised and delighted that the Albany Auto Show, ENYCAR's spring paid-attendance event, held April 4-6, 2008, attracted a larger share of vehicles than in previous years.
"It was the first year in quite a few that we've been able to get some of the really exciting cars out there," says Perrella, who was sure to use the appearance of vehicles such as Nissan's 2009 Maxima in promoting the show.
The result was the best attendance the Albany Auto Show has had in four years - some 40 percent up from a year ago.
That included an hourly gas card giveaway that Perrella says was surprising in its popularity as well as a "free gas for a year" promotion for one lucky winner.
The boost in attendance might also be credited to a discounted $3 admission held from noon to 3 p.m. on opening day in conjunction with an early bird "flyaway giveaway," the prize being two tickets to any Southwest Airlines destination.
Besides the giveaways and the new cars, show goers were treated to jugglers, face painting artists and stilt-walkers, a strategy Perrella prefers over celebrities or other forms of entertainment. "It's been our experience that any increase in attendance doesn't pay for the extra cost."
"It was the first nice weekend, but not so warm that people were out doing yard work," notes Perrella.
It was nice enough, however, that at least some auto show attendees went straight from the event to their dealerships. "We heard stories about people buying the actual vehicle that was on display and coming back to the show to admire it again."
Perrella says dealers are already talking about a uptick in sales, the result of shoppers the best form of spring fever an auto dealer could imagine.
"I did my job, which was to get people out to the auto show. Now it's up to them."
Kansas City: Bye-bye VIP night, hello more attendeesAs several auto shows find themselves launching pre-show gala or charity events, Bill Morrison of the Greater Kansas City International Auto Show, held March 5-9, 2008, is doing just about the opposite.
"It was real nice and everyone had a good time, but it was costing a lot of money," says Morrison. "More to the point, we sat down and asked 'why are we really doing an auto show?' And the main reason is to generate attendance and exposure to the product."
What Morrison and his members did next was to focus on building that attendance and exposure, opening up the Bartle Hall Convention Center to the public on a two-for-one ticket basis.
There were other reasons, of course, one being having two ride and drive events - by Mitsubishi and Chrysler - the two automakers taking opposite ends of the show hall (with Mitsubishi renting a brand new parking lot, Chrysler renting space on a cordoned-off street for their facility).
Morrison also credits the show's success to the appearance of Mercedes' Smart car, making Kansas City one of the few places outside major metropolitan centers the diminutive vehicle has been formally shown.
The overall result was a completely sold-out event as far as space was concerned. "Every inch," says Morrison.
At the same time, Morrison worked to highlight the concept cars Kansas City was able to attract.
"As soon as we found out what vehicles are coming, we advertised them," he says. "Those concept cars [including this year the Bumblebee Camaro and Dodge Charger] are big draws."
Other strategies Morrison employs to build awareness and energy at the auto show are the giving away of free passes to high school groups. "These are our future customers," he says. "We've never turned anyone away yet."
Further promotion included Sunday newspaper distribution of the official auto show program a week before the show within the Kansas City Star, a show sponsor. Morrison also teamed up with merchants in a revitalized downtown Kansas City to distribute discount coupons in return for four free tickets to the show. "That helped us a lot," he says.
Milwaukee: Last year's snow now history, show sees a 16 percent recoveryYou don't want to remind Don Hansen of the snowstorm that hampered last year's Greater Milwaukee International Auto Show.
It was also last year that Hansen learned a valuable lesson: that media reaction to the weather can be worse than the storm itself.
"It really wasn't that bad," says Hansen. "But the media told people to stay home and that hurt."
What Hansen did was get on the phone and get the media to rectify the situation. Immediately.
"We were off 50 percent the first weekend, but we have to give the media credit: they did step in and take care of us. It shows you what a difference it can make in the way you talk."
But that was last year.
That includes a display of vehicles from the 1950s, courtesy of the Wisconsin Automotive Museum.
With fuel economy being front and center these days, show goers were able to get their fill at a display of hybrid vehicles, courtesy of the Milwaukee Hybrid Group, said to be the largest not-for-profit hybrid owners group in North America.
Parents took note of a Kids Safety Display that highlighted a "Spot the Tot" campaign, courtesy of Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin and Children's Health Education Center.
Hansen says it's clear that the auto show is helping automakers in their sales efforts, especially domestic producers who have seen tougher times. "It helps," he says. "It gets people motivated and excited. They see what's available and the auto show is a wonderful way of getting people excited. That's our job."
With an estimated 22 percent of retail business tied to automotive retail, Hansen says the $4 billion spent related to new car sales continues to drive the local economy.
"It really does make a difference, especially with the trouble in the housing sector. And it keeps the economy running."
New Orleans: Best show in five years reflective of city's rebirthWhile Katrina may be a distant memory to some, for Jeffrie Schultiss-Fricke, who organizes the New Orleans Auto Show as part of her responsibilities at the Greater New Car Dealers Association, the task of rebuilding the city and area continues.
As far as the auto show is concerned, things are looking up. The most recent show, held Feb. 29-Mar. 2, 2008, was "the best show in five years," says Schultiss-Fricke, "and the best even two years before Katrina."
One reason is clearly the move to the Morial Convention Center (from the Louisiana Superdome), originally thought to be a very temporary one.
"They've now given us dates to 2013," says a delighted Schultiss-Fricke. Which means the show will maintain its new 250,000 square feet of space (up from the 160,000 available in the Superdome).
Schultiss-Fricke says attendance numbers were also up as the result of what she calls "more serious" shoppers.
"We're still down more than 200,000 people in the parish of Orleans," she notes. "But more residents are finally getting interested in buying new vehicles. Right after the storm they had either purchased or they were too busy to come back and enjoy the auto show. That has changed."
"People were coming from about a 100-mile radius to attend," she notes. "We were getting people from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mobile to Baton Rouge."
That reflects the fact that so many former New Orleans residents, who still work in the city, are commuting, something Schultiss-Fricke factored in with her marketing efforts.
"We used a lot of e-mail in our marketing," she says. "We know they're commuters and aren't necessarily going to see or hear local media the way they would if they were living in New Orleans."
Schultiss-Fricke, who also did "more regional advertising than we've ever done before," credits dealers who have "stuck with the show" through the obviously very rough times.
She hopes those days are well behind the New Orleans International Auto Show.
"We had a jazz band playing all three days at the show, which was something people just loved," says Schultiss-Fricke.
There were also notable returnees, including Mitsubishi, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Next spring, which is the 25th anniversary of the New Orleans Auto Show, she hopes to see even more evidence of the rebirth, with manufacturers being encouraged to send more and bigger displays, especially now that the Morial Convention Center appears to be the new home for the show.
In the meantime, Schultiss-Fricke says she'll continue advocating for full manufacturer participation in an event that is clearly helping with the renewal of a great American city.
New York: It's (still) about bringing buyers to the vehiclesWhile New York is the place where the worlds of commerce and finance are centered, it's also one where the laws of retail automotive continue to apply.
"There are two sides to the show - the trade aspect and the consumer side - both of which are enormously important," says Schienberg.
And like other large auto shows, one feeds off the other, starting with the media attention given to new vehicle introductions, in New York's case some 47 world and North American debuts.
Schienberg estimates media coverage to be about four percent higher than last year.
"Print, radio, TV… they all had nice bumps this year for us," he adds. "Being in New York, we have all the national networks, and we were able to benefit from that."
In the Javits Center, consumers who visited the show out of concern for rising fuel prices weren't disappointed. Among the displays were those featuring clean diesel technology that promises to deliver significant savings in the near future as well as the ultra small vehicles (like Smart and Honda Fit) , hybrids and E85 capable vehicles.
Schienberg says exit surveys at the show revealed a keen interest in fuel efficiency, specifically related to clean diesel.
A 2.19 percent increase in ticket sales would suggest the interest in the auto show continues to be strong.
"That's good for the industry," says Schienberg. "It shows that people are still interested in buying cars, even during a tough economy. And that's why manufacturers come back every year. They want to make sure they reach the portion of the public that will be buying."
Highlights of the auto show included features that, while it maybe not directed at the general public, did serve to underscore the overall importance of the event from an industry perspective.
Another key event surrounding the New York International Auto Show was the annual Wall Street Dinner.
The auto show was also the backdrop for the 2nd annual IAG Automotive Advertising Awards program, which measures the effectiveness of automobile ads.
"It's starting to take off as an event," says Schienberg. "We had a number of CEOs there, many of whom were hoping their company's products were featured in the winning ads."
Another highlight of the show was the announcement by the X Prize Foundation of an automotive version of its inaugural award: the $10 million it gave to the team that was able to launch a manned, reusable spacecraft. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize will award $10 million to the team that develops a 100-mpg vehicle along with various environmental and speed-related criteria.
Schienberg said the X Prize Foundation's choice of the auto show to make the announcement was no accident.
Schienberg was equally pleased when auto show organizers were approached by officials of the NASDAQ exchange, who came with both a copy of a report that showed the economic benefit of the auto show - some $200 million annually - and an invitation to participate in the "closing bell" ceremony.
"It was pretty neat," admits Schienberg. "NASDAQ recognized the economic importance of our event in having members of the auto show committee participate in this ceremony."
Looking ahead, Schienberg says the New York International Auto Show is already gearing up for an even more successful event next year.
Rochester: Consistent show has a new ATAE at helmWhen John Lyboldt got the call to take a new job as vice president of dealer services at the National Automobile Dealers Association, the lead position left open at the Rochester Auto Dealers Association was filled with a familiar face.
But McAreavy was there just over a year when opportunity knocked in the form of Lyboldt's move.
"I was in the right place at the right time," says McAreavy, who has now wrapped up his first Rochester International Auto Show, held Feb. 27-Mar. 2, 2008.
Highlights included a Dodge and Chrysler minivan promotion with two families selected to live in the vehicles for a 24-hour period (with designated bathroom and shower breaks).
If they succeeded, and they did, they'd drive away with the vehicle, courtesy of the local dealership marketing group and a local radio station.
Along with a select few concept cars, local custom car manufacturer EM Motors displayed its EM578 sports car, a street legal race car that's reminiscent of LeMans and Can-Am greats.
McAreavy uses one word repeatedly to describe the Rochester show: consistent.
"The end of February can be a bit iffy as far as the weather is concerned, but it precedes the selling season and dealers look forward to a spike in sales come March. It gets things off on the right track."
Currently, business in the Rochester area, like other regions in the U.S., is down, if only moderately.
And while any automotive retail woes may be related in part to an "over-dealered" situation, McAreavy says his members are survivors.
"They'll find a way to work through the tough times," he predicts. "Those who come out on the other side of that are going to be very healthy operators. They'll be successful, but as a whole, dealers know how to survive in tough times."
Auto Shows of North America Show DirectoryAlbany
Albany Auto Show
4/3/2009 - 4/5/2009
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