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.
Chevy wants tax break to lower Volt stickerGM is reportedly seeking a tax break to make its Chevy Volt a little more affordable at its dealerships once the vehicle goes on the market in 2010. The company is apparently lobbying Congress for the tax changes, according to a report in Automotive News. Edmunds.com quoted GM spokesman Greg Martin as saying any tax breaks would cover the Volt and similar vehicles that use new technology. "Toyota, Ford and Nissan are also working with policy makers" to ensure that legislative language includes extended-range electric vehicles and other future green-tech vehicles, Martin told Edmunds.com. "GM wants to make sure new energy legislation comprehends not only current hybrid vehicles but future technology," he said.
Some see link between housing crisis and autosThe housing crisis may be hurting the auto industry, the effect of traditional lenders tightening credit for potential vehicle loans. The effect may be the lowest overall vehicles sales since 1995, according to J.D Power and Associates, as quoted in The New York Times. Also quoted was William Ryan, a financial analyst at Portales Partners. "It is a bleak picture, and it all hinges on the availability of financing. The whole universe related to the auto industry is touched in some way." Not everyone is taking a doom and gloom view of things, however. "It's a challenge, but it's not a crisis," the story quoted William F. Muir, president of GMAC. Still, some lenders have pulled back. One, AmeriCredit, a big subprime finance company, said it would issue about $3 billion in new auto loans this year, compared with $9.2 billion in 2007, roughly 340,000 fewer vehicles. And some dealers say buyers who would have been easily approved for a loan a year ago are now being turned away.
Toyota reportedly developing clean diesel V8 enginesAccording to Edmunds.com, Toyota is developing a new family of clean diesel V8 engines for its full-size Tundra pickup and Sequoia utility vehicles, including a 4.5-liter unit that is expected to be in production by model-year 2010. The automaker is also expected to offer a new version of its existing 4.7-liter V8 that will run on E85 ethanol. Toyota earlier this year launched a new twin-turbo 4.5-liter V8 diesel in the Land Cruiser 200 (which is sold in Australia) and speculation is that the engine could be a prelude to the U.S. market Tundra and Sequoia.
ASNA Summer Meetings 'around the corner'
Mitsubishi signs RWB as PR agency of record
“This is the start of a creative renaissance for Mitsubishi,” said Dan Kuhnert, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “RWB has a firm grasp of the automotive industry and can immediately apply their knowledge and experience to help us communicate our brand’s strengths and messages. Together with our new advertising agency, we are perfectly positioned to tell the Mitsubishi story in an exciting new way.”
Comings and GoingsMarti Eulberg, who most recently held the post of executive vice president of sales and marketing at Jaguar Cars North America, became president and CEO of Maserati North America on June 1. She reports to Raffaele Fusilli, Maserati S.p.a. commercial director.
Liz Vanzura has left her position as global marketing director at Cadillac. Vanzura, who began her career at GM as a mechanical engineer, would become assistant brand manager on the Pontiac Sunfire. She left GM in 1997 to join Volkswagen, but returned in 2000 as ad director of Hummer.
Tom Kowaleski has been named vice president of corporate communications at BMW North America. Kowaleski, a former head of communications at GM, replaced the retiring Robert Mitchell.
Among those leaving Ford Motor Co. is Jim Cain, a long-time spokesperson.
Janis Little, an auto show fixture for Mitsubishi, has retired as Public Relations manager from Mitsubishi Motors North America.
No replacement has been named. Little can be reached by e-mail or phone at 310.344.9103.
Calgary: Strong economy creates rare bright spotJack Thompson would rather you didn't use the "B" word.
"We don't like to say 'boom' because it's usually followed by another 'b' word: bust," quips the head of the Calgary Automobile Dealers Association, which produces the Calgary Auto Show.
But the reality is, the most recent event, held March 12-16, 2008, reflected the robust economy of Canada's oil-rich western province, a government with no debt and no worries — other than where to house workers who are flocking to the northern oil sands in search of high-paying jobs.
Still, Thompson knows his part of North America is fortunate, even as record high fuel prices are part of the price being paid by consumers.
As far as the auto show is concerned, attendance was steady over last year, with a surge on weekends, even as organizers try to get people to visit on the less-busy weekdays. "We're creatures of habit," says Thompson. "If they're accustomed to coming on a weekend, that's when they arrive."
Fortunately, the layout of the Roundup Centre & Corral Stampede Park is conducive to large crowds.
"Flow is very good, not only for manufacturers but for the aftermarket display," notes Thompson, adding that a display of exotic vehicles was particularly popular with show goers.
"Ferrari Maserati of Alberta, which just opened the first ever facility in Calgary, booked a portion of the facility that we don't normally use, a 500-seat theater stage," says Thompson. "Besides showing Ferrari films, they had Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 championship car on stage and that was a big hit."
Notably, until very recently, exotic vehicles such as Ferrari, Bentley and Maserati weren't available at local dealerships; only stores in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver sold the high-end vehicles.
As Thompson points out, that's now changing. "Calgary's coming of age," he says. "We've got a strong economic base to support buyers who can afford these cars."
While the Calgary Auto Show isn't promoted as a selling show, like many other events of its kind, deals are "informally" concluded. "There are always a number of vehicles sold off the floor, with dealerships being there," says Thompson.
The unintended effect is the stress an event of this nature puts on dealership personnel who are typically working double duty, at the show and the off-site retail operation.
But few are complaining. Or at least not too loudly.
"It really does kick off the spring market in Calgary," says Thompson. "The timing has always been a door opener for strong sales."
What show goers won't see much of is the entertainment features that are seen elsewhere.
Looking ahead, Thompson says an expansion of the facility is expected to make more space available for the auto show in the near future. "We're hopeful there may be more space available for the 2009 show," he adds. "And space is something we need."
Cincinnati: Weather cooperates this year as attendance climbsIt was good news this year for Ace Ammann and his Cincinnati Enquirer and Post Auto Expo, and for one good reason.
With a respite from last year's ice storm that "just about wiped out the weekend," this year's event, held Feb. 21-24, 2008, registered a 20 percent increase in attendance, according to Ammann.
But there was more than an increase in attendance to glow about.
Besides an updated carpet, Ammann says a boost in media attention — including live TV coverage from the show — has meant more and more area residents take note and make the trek to the Cincinnati Convention Center.
For at least some, a key attraction is the Heroes Truck, a $650,000 creation custom built 2004 Chevy created to honor members of the Armed Services, as well as fire fighters, police, and medical professionals.
Ohio residents Dale and Connie Ison, who invested much of their life savings in the project, took more than five years to complete the project.
"It's a very popular attraction," says Ammann. "People were always crowded around the truck."
Getting those people to the show was due in part to a successful promotion with the Kroger grocery chain, which continued to offer cash register sales of discounted tickets. In fact, some 30 percent of show ticket sales came through Kroger.
"There are lots of advantages for us," notes Ammann, not least of which is the fact that there are no additional printing of discounted tickets. "It's worked very well for us."
While concept cars are always a nice feature for any auto show (and Cincinnati had a modest showing of three or four concepts), Ammann says his dealers are focused on showcasing production vehicles.
"That's what it's all about," he notes. "Dealers want to show the cars they can sell."
Among the popular vehicles display were the new Camaro and Ford's Mustang Bullitt.
Even so, the so-called exotics were also a popular diversion, says Ammann.
Looking ahead, he plans to continue with a relatively new preview event, which debuted last year. Brought down to the floor this year, the preview raised approximately $20,000 for the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center through $100 ticket sales.
Dallas: Photo/fingerprint service draws family crowdsIn tough economic times, more is not just good. It's exceptional.
The event, which included two ride and drive opportunities — one from Toyota, its third for the Off Road On Site Adventure; the other a debut for Mitsubishi.
Media outlets were squarely behind the show as well, something McKinley says is appreciated. "We've always had tremendous promotional support; it does make a difference," she notes.
In the case of Dallas, one change was the foregoing of a preview party, largely due to date constraints that cut into move-in time. Its replacement, an industry luncheon, included former White House press secretary Tony Snow as a keynote speaker.
The Thursday featured the show's fourth annual Law Enforcement Day, an event that continues to grow with interest throughout the state. "This year, instead of having two general sessions, we had breakout sessions that people could choose from," notes McKinley.
One addition to the show that brought in a great response from families was the KidSafe Program, with organizers offering parents a complimentary photo and fingerprint identification service. The initiative, sponsored by Univision 23, the Spanish language broadcaster.
"Saturday and Sunday had the biggest response," notes McKinley of the KidSafe promotion. "It was a very good way for the show to reach out to the community."
McKinley says strong manufacturer support continued once again at this year's show.
"We even had the addition of motor scooters this year," she adds. "It was a great show."
Denver: Rocky Mountain state is greener than everJohn Denver would be proud.
Now, with fuel hitting record prices at the pumps, auto show organizers like Tim Jackson, who heads both the metro area and state dealer associations, are taking note, sating a thirst for vehicles that are more environmentally friendly than ever.
Jackson, hired in 2004 on the announcement by Bill Barrow that he was retiring from his dual role as head of the dealer associations, took the reins a year later; Barrow continued to manage the auto show in 2006 and 2007.
When Barrow and his wife Merilee Keene finally retired for good, Jackson brought in Paragon Expo to manage the show, this past event being their first.
While from an attendance standpoint, the event was the biggest show in the association's history (up slightly over last year), the real news came in what happened even before the public show began.
Jackson came up with the idea for a "Green Car Parade," using the circle drive of the state legislature as a starting point — in fact, a display of nearly 50 vehicles assembled by area dealers. From high efficiency models like the Honda Fit and Chevy Aveo to hybrids and E-85 ethanol capable models, the vehicles were available for public viewing for about 90 minutes.
Even though crowds were substantial for the pre-show event, Jackson notes the purpose was really to generate publicity for the show. And in that regard, it was a resounding success.
"We had all five local TV stations there," says Jackson, noting there were some 19 different playbacks of the Green Car Parade.
The next day, Monday, March 24, the dealer association hosted another first: a Green Car Summit open to the public, its intention being to showcase how "new cars are green cars."
Jackson says offering factual information is an important initiative.
"The public is largely being fed a message that new cars are a problem. In fact, newer cars are a bigger part of the solution to improving air quality."
One of the key messages: that 75 percent of the problem related to automobile emissions is caused by fewer than five percent of cars on the road is part of the message being conveyed by the Clear-The-Air Foundation, an organization set up by the dealers to help remove and recycle inefficient vehicles.
Initially funded by both the Metro Denver and Colorado dealer organizations to the tune of $200,000, Clear-The-Air got a financial boost with yet another Denver Auto Show first — a Green Tie Charity Preview Event.
And on opening day, 24 VIP invitees ceremonially cut a green 200-foot ribbon to officially launch the show.
Jackson says steady attendance on Wednesday and Thursday was followed by a slightly less crowded Friday, building up again on Saturday.
It was Sunday where expectations were shattered.
"It was the first time we had lines of any significance," says Jackson. "By noon, we had lines two blocks long."
Attendance momentum at the show was helped on Thursday with the annual AutoVenture luncheon, served to approximately 1,000 paid attendees.
Jackson says the auto show continued to benefit from displays like an accessories area that was added in 2005.
"That was one of the things that was added after our expansion and it continued to be a popular feature," he says.
Also popular were exhibits from GM, especially its Chevrolet area, which included some five Corvettes as well as the Volt.
Other notable features in the show were the Toyota and VW exhibits, the latter including the Diesolution with its clean fuel message.
And Chrysler presented a "back to the future" display of its retro Challenger and Charger vehicles, each new model next to the original version.
Jackson says that while the auto show continues to succeed as a place where auto manufacturers can effectively market their wares, he has a theory of why vehicle sales remain lower on a volume basis.
"One reason is that vehicles are lasting longer," he says. "People are also taking longer to pay for the cars and trucks they buy. And finally, it's costing more for everything else, including fuel."
Fort Worth: Show makes big impact on potential buyersFrom Lisa Moore's perspective, the Greater Tarrant County Auto Show presents itself as one of the area's largest vehicle showrooms, with more than 300 vehicles and concept cars designed to bring in Fort Worth area consumers.
This year's event, held March 13-16, 2008 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, was no disappointment in that regard, says Moore, who serves as show director, working for the New Car Dealers Association of Greater Tarrant County.
"We had some really great vehicles," says Moore, quickly mentioning the Chevrolet Bumblebee Camaro (from the Transformers film) as well as the Chevy Malibu hybrid.
Ford came through with its Mustang Bullitt, GT40 and the Super Chief, and Chrysler stepped forward with a ride and drive, featuring its new Town and Country minivan.
"We also had the Dodge Challenger and Jaguar's X9," notes Moore. "Plus we had the Silverado Hybrid, which is made in Arlington."
While there was little if any entertainment at the auto show, Toyota did host a series of live broadcasts from its space.
And there was at least one special visitor — former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson, whose Saturday autograph signing appearance drew large crowds.
"We had people come in specifically for him," says Moore. "These were visitors who may not have come in otherwise."
From a dealer perspective, the auto show remains an important part of the season, as it does in other areas of the country.
"Most of the people who come here are at least thinking about buying a new car," says Moore. "They get to see everything without driving all around town, and because the dealerships have their personnel in the booths, they're ready to help them with any information they need to make up their minds. It works for everyone concerned."
Houston: Show capitalizes on 'Texas Debut' distinctionWhile auto show organizers scramble for their share of vehicle introductions, the reality is that every market is unique, something organizers of the Houston Auto Show realize when they put together the popular event.
"It's one of the things we've discovered," says Andy Fuzesi, who produces the event for the Houston Automobile Dealers Association, which is headed by ATAE Walter Wainwright. "Having a 'Texas Debut' is a pretty important thing in itself."
Fuzesi points to vehicles like the Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 as being of particular interest to Texas consumers.
"It's irrelevant for a person from the area whether the vehicle actually debuted somewhere else," he adds.
The attraction, clearly, is being able to see vehicles that aren't yet in dealer showrooms, something Fuzesi pushed at this year's show, held Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2008.
The Houston Auto Show, a "Texas-sized" exhibition spread over 600,000 square feet, includes up to 15,000 square feet of space dedicated to young ones, a so-called "Kids Fun Zone" that attracts families, a key point Fuzesi likes to promote.
"It's funny, because some kids don't want to leave the fun zone, even when it's time to go home."
Although there aren't many autograph signing sessions at the show (unless they're connected to a manufacturer already exhibiting), Fuzesi says there are always attractions that do bring in the crowds, notably a classic car show that features vehicles ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s.
"This was our 25th anniversary of doing that," says Fuzesi, who taps into a local resource who recruits from various car clubs for the displays.
"Those who come out aren't necessarily interested in the Super Bowl."
What Fuzesi is sure about is the enduring value in auto shows as a marketing tool for manufacturers.
"People have been predicting every time there was a new technology that you wouldn't need to go to the auto show, but people still want to sit inside the automobile. The Internet may be an important tool but it's not a substitute for people going to the auto show."
And for manufacturers intent on getting through the clutter of marketing messages, there's nothing like the auto show.
"Someone who attends the auto show is likely to consider brands they wouldn't normally look at," says Fuzesi. "There are lots of times I've met people who three months after they went to the show, they've bought a vehicle. It stimulated them to buy."
Louisville: Changes include merger, new dates, non-sellingLet's call it a brand new show.
For several reasons, the auto show in Louisville is an event in significant transition, one being the merger with a very popular custom car show that boosted attendance by 300 percent over a year ago.
Yes: 300 percent.
Scott Roth, who heads the Greater Louisville Car Dealers Association, also points to a significant change in dates, from March (where the show was competing with the interests of basketball fans) to February (the most recent show was held Feb. 22-24, 2008). "We also had to deal with spring break in the school system," notes Roth.
A third point of transition is the Louisville event dropping its selling show status, something Roth says has actually worked out quite well.
"With the date change, we weren't able to secure the 1,500 parking spots we needed for the inventory," says Roth. "But when we made it a non-selling show, attendance went through the roof, even though we also went to paid attendance."
With some 710,000 square feet of show space (the event previously took up only 215,000 square feet), the renamed Carl Casper Custom and Louisville New Car Auto Show isn't something that might easily fit on a business card.
But Roth says that is likely to work itself out over time.
"Eventually, it will probably be just 'the Auto Show,'" he says.
With a shared ownership — Carl Casper owning the custom car portion of the event; the dealer association having retained the new car side — Roth says it's a winning combination that Louisville area residents have embraced.
The merger — two years in the making — was heavily promoted this year, with even more advertising than would otherwise be done.
Dealer reaction to dropping the on-site sales status was positive, says Roth.
"We had no push back," he notes. "The selling show took its toll on dealers who weren't going to close their stores. Instead they had to have staff at both locations and that meant their salespeople got worn out. And dealers realized that it was probably a good thing not having such a competitive environment in which to showcase the vehicles."
And even though show goers now had to pay to attend, Roth says that wasn't much of an issue, especially considering the relative entertainment value.
That came in the form of seeing the latest vehicles as well as Carl Casper's extensive displays, plus specialty cars that included Alan Jackson's Cobra and a Dale Earnhardt NASCAR vehicle.
Celebrity appearances included James Scott, from the soap Days of Our Lives; Stephen Nichols, who plays "Patch" Johnson on the same show; Vinnie DiMartino, formerly of Orange County Choppers; Jason Earles (who plays Jackson Stewart on Hannah Montana); and World Wrestling Entertainment's Matthew Hardy and Michelle McCool.
"We also had a Hannah Montana lookalike contest, which the kids liked," says Roth.
Other features included Spider-Man, Scooby-doo and NFL cheerleaders from the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
As far as the future of the auto show is concerned, Roth sees it becoming "a very large regional event, more so than what the show has been in the past."
Roth expects attendees will want to travel, perhaps as much as 100 miles, to see Carl Casper's custom vehicles along with what manufacturers are offering, something he expects automakers will want to take advantage of with larger displays.
"We'll tweak it again next year, but we'll continue moving down this path."
Minneapolis: Strong interest continues even in slower market"At least they're looking."
"The interest is still there," says Abraham, who's quick to point out that the auto industry is a cyclical business — and likely always will be.
"There's also the point that sales have been good for a number of years," he adds. "People might have thought it should continue to be that way, but the reality is there are peaks and valleys; we enjoyed a long peak and now you're in the valley. It's part of the business."
As far as the most recent auto show, held March 8-16, 2008, Abraham says strong support from manufacturers helped draw the crowds, contributing to an eight percent increase in attendance compared with the year prior.
Indeed, some companies — Abraham cited Ford as an example — have already asked for additional space, a challenge given the "sold out" status at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Abraham says it's been about seven years since there was any kind of expansion; he isn't expecting any additional space "for at least six years."
Notable points of success for this year's show included high retention rates for a sticky note discount ticket on the front page of the newspaper. "You couldn't miss it," says Abraham. "We'll do it again."
A by-invitation opening night party once again proved to be a popular feature, it having been launched six or seven years ago. "It's not a preview party as such," says Abraham, "since we hold it the same night as the general consumer arrives. But it is well attended."
"That continues to be a great promotional draw," says Abraham.
Dealers also support the community by offering $100,000 in college scholarships to children of dealership employees.
"We continue to be the largest event held in the Minneapolis Convention Center," notes Abraham. "We're looking forward to continuing that trend in 2009."
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