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.
Gill rolls out red carpet to ATAEsSometimes, membership really does have its privileges. In this case, it's membership in Automotive Trade Association Executives that is the key to an invitation to Press Days for the LA Auto Show, Nov. 19-20. Charlie Gill, who heads the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association, will also host a luncheon for ATAE members on Nov. 19. ATAEs should contact Shirley Aldana Schwarz by October 31 for luncheon reservations.
Earth, Wind & Power Awards to debut in Detroit
That’s how executive producer Courtney Caldwell sees the new category, which will be presented at the 13th Annual International Car of the Year (ICOTY) awards program, Jan. 10, 2009, at the MGM Grand Detroit, on the eve of press preview days for the North American International Auto Show.
Caldwell, who is founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Road & Travel Magazine, a 20-year-old online publication, says the need to recognize automakers’ efforts in the area of eco-friendly vehicle development has never been greater.
“With global warming and concerns about dependence of foreign oil becoming more mainstream today, more and more people are turning to fuel-efficient or alternative fuel vehicles,” says Caldwell. “It’s become of vital interest to consumers, automakers, and the future of our planet to produce vehicles that are compatible with our environment.”
In addition to the inaugural “Earth, Wind & Power” Awards, ICOTY will present its 2nd Annual Earth Angel Award, honoring an automaker for the most progress on its environmental programs, partnership and initiatives.
Trend toward Asian brands increasing in U.S.Even more U.S. new car buyers are leaning toward purchasing Asian-branded vehicles than ever before, says a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. A survey of nearly 30,000 new-car buyers showed 58 percent of those considering both American and Asian new cars chose those from Asia, up from 55 percent a year earlier. Only 40 percent of potential buyers looking at vehicles from both regions chose American, down from 43 percent. Tom Gauer, senior director of the study, acknowledged in a story in Automotive News that while “domestics have done an amazing job” of improving quality, “the ability to change the public’s perception is something that takes a long time to do.”
Chrysler coming on board with electric vehiclesChrysler’s announcement that it will sell one of three electric vehicles it will produce by 2010 is said to put the automaker on pace with General Motors and its Chevrolet Volt, also due in 2010. Chrysler also said it will produce electric versions of the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler Town & Country and a “Peapod” vehicle based on the GEM car. It did not say which of the three vehicles it would produce by 2010.
Pet safety advocate heads for auto showsIt all started when Christina Selter, who was driving down a San Diego street where she lives, was forced to brake hard. When that happened, her dog Betty, a Boston Terrier, was knocked off her feet, skidding across the floor of her vehicle and into the back of the passenger seat.
One of the first stops on what has become a growing and emotionally rewarding venture was last season’s San Diego International Auto Show.
And at opening day of the New York International Auto Show, Bark Buckle UP gave away $20,000 in pet travel and safety products, a model that Selter says was repeated at this year’s Orange County Auto Show in Anaheim and will be at other shows as she crisscrosses the country this season.
Last year Selter ran the “Pet Safe Vehicle of Choice,” a no-cost to the manufacturer honors program that ultimately resulted in Volvo Cars endorsing Bark Buckle UP (its XC90 took top honors).
Selter will again tour the country in support of pet safety, likely exceeding the 20 cities in 12 weeks she did this past year.
Each stop, for which Bark Buckle UP is compensated, includes pre-shipment of pet safety products that are presented to consumers. “We like to have people bring a picture of their pet to the stop,” notes Selter. “This helps us select the right product for their particular breed.”
If the reaction to last year’s tour is any indication, concern for pet safety is a timely issue.
Selter points to statistics showing that travel with pets went up 300 percent between 2005 and 2007, with fewer than 2 percent of pet owners restraining their pets while driving.
“Anything that increases that fast is bound to have an impact,” says Selter, who uses the Bark Buckle UP Web site as a showcase for products that meet high standards for pet safety.
“Equipment manufacturers first send in their products, which we evaluate,” she says. “If they meet our standards, we allow them to advertise.”
Part of the educational effort includes helping pet owners choose the right restraining device for their particular breed.
“There is no one size or style fits all,” says Selter. “You wouldn’t, for example, put a harness on a dachshund or wiener dog. It would break its back in an accident.”
Selter is also working closely with first responders, whose experience at the scene of an accident includes sometimes having to deal with an injured or aggressive pet. “If that happens, they have to call animal control and wait. Or if they open the door and the pet runs out, it might cause a second accident, with additional injuries.”
More information on the pet safety program is available at www.barkbuckleUP.com.
Toyota to show natural gas-hybrid concept at LAToyota plans to display a CNG (compressed natural gas) hybrid version of the Camry at the LA Auto Show in November. The announcement was made at a Sustainable Mobility Seminar hosted by the automaker in September. While CNG refueling stations are rare - only about 1,000 exist across the U.S. - Toyota says the vehicle highlights the growing emergence of natural gas as a domestic energy source that’s in abundant supply. While Toyota has built a CNG-fueled Camry as recently as 1999 (for which there was little consumer interest) and Honda has built Civics running on CNG for years, the thought is that adding the hybrid-electric drive may boost interest.
Revamped Toyota test drive event revs upA complete refresh of Toyota’s popular 4x4 showcase event - formerly known as the Toyota Off Road On Site Adventure - is heading to nine venues belonging to the Auto Shows of North America circuit.
The new event will also be featured at: Sacramento International Auto Show, Alabama International Auto Show, Central Florida International Auto Show, San Diego International Auto Show, Silicon Valley International Auto Show, Saint Louis International Auto Show, Dallas Auto Show and Cleveland Auto Show.
The off road test track is filled with a number of challenging obstacles, including large moguls, steep berms, big hill, tunnel and teeter totter. “The always popular extreme breakaway leg is back and highlights the rugged off road capabilities of the FJ Cruiser,” says Ruvelson.
While vehicle mix will vary by market, the four possible off road vehicles that will be used include the Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, FJ Cruiser and Sequoia. In certain markets an autocross course will be set up in addition to the off road course - in those cases the Toyota Venza, Camry SE and Matrix would be among the vehicles featured.
Toyota’s test drive event debuted three years ago and was an instant success. Since then, some 92,000 show goers have participated.
For more information, please visit www.toyota.com/behindthewheel.
NA auto show delegation visits Paris Motor ShowSix North American auto show executives visited the 2008 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile earlier this month. The group met with manufacturers, attended press conferences and industry receptions, and visited with Thierry Hesse, director general of the Paris Motor Show.
Hesse welcomed the group into his office and said he was pleased by the interest of the delegation, saying he is fortunate to have many American friends. He also acknowledged the importance of auto shows around the world, and the positive role they play in the economy.
The meeting was attended by Steve Smith, San Jose International Auto Show; Dean Mansfield, San Diego International Auto Show; Greg Remensperger, Portland International Auto Show; Don Hansen, Milwaukee International Auto Show; Bill and Mary Jo Abraham, Minneapolis International Auto Show; and Tom Tonks and Dongi Pranaitis, Canadian International Auto Show.
The Paris Motor Show, one of the most important industry events in the world, broke a new attendance record this year with 1,432,972 visitors. The show welcomed more than 13,000 journalists from 92 countries, and hosted more than 90 new product unveilings.
Comings and Goings
Anaheim: Entertainment counters soft market; ride and drives growWith a market that was 26 percent down from a sales perspective, John Sackrison had time to counter what could have been a major impact on the Orange County Auto Show, the unofficial opener of the 2008-2009 auto show season.
“We beat the market,” notes Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Auto Dealers Association.
What did go up - by a dramatic 185 percent - were e-ticket sales, something Sackrison says is attributable to a combination of convenience and database growth.
“There’s no waiting in line at the box office,” he says. “But another reason for the growth is the amount of time and effort we’ve spent in developing our database.”
That comes at least in part from the magazine subscription promotion introduced by show producer Motor Trend, which offers a one-year subscription to its flagship magazine.
“It’s something that’s becoming more and more important,” says Sackrison. “The Green Trail was a concept that was a big hit with media as well as consumers.’
Sackrison also points to a very successful “First Look for Charity” preview event that raised $60,000 for Children’s Hospital of Orange County, double the amount raised last year.
In an effort to counter an obvious market slowdown, organizers concentrated on bringing additional entertainment to the show, among them a concert by Sugar Ray, which was brought to the main show floor and included as part of the auto show admission price.
The show also included the OC Auto Show Pageant, the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Model Search, and a return of Auto Show Underground, sponsored by Al & Ed’s Autosound.
Among the “underground” features was a large selection of tricked-out vehicles from various music and sports celebrities, courtesy of DUB Magazine.
Finally, Sackrison pointed to ride and drive programs sponsored by Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda and Chrysler as being very well received.
Chrysler in particular, although a latecomer in the schedule, found its expectations tripled or even quadrupled.
“By the second day, they’d already achieved the number of consumer rides they had anticipated,” says Sackrison. “And Saturday and Sunday were gangbusters.”
As Sackrison notes, the process of getting consumers into vehicles is an important one.
“This is typically the fifth or sixth step in the car buying process. When they’ve got great products, they sell themselves. And we’ve already received very positive feedback from dealerships. In this market, leads like these are highly valued. The sales teams at the dealerships jump at them.”
Cleveland: Plenty of space and free parkingWith an impressive 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space, the Cleveland Auto Show, held at the I-X Center, is one big event.
With a recent boost in space that took the I-X Center from over one million square feet to its current size, Adams and his show organizers were in an expansive mood.
“While we were able to expand the motorcycle and RV displays, more importantly we were able to dramatically expand our ride and drive offerings,” says Adams, specifically mentioning those by Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Kia and Toyota.
While the ride and drive programs are hardly new, the additional space gave Adams the impetus to put more emphasis on marketing. He’s also become even more enthusiastic about the potential the test drive format represents.
“We think it’s a natural extension to all auto shows,” says Adams. “If you look back to the 1900s, auto shows were entertainment venues, with promoters bringing in big bands--that was what attracted the crowds and people got to look at the cars. Now the cars are central; people get to sit in them and touch them, and the ride and drive gives them the opportunity to actually test drive the vehicle.”
“There wasn’t a time when there wasn’t a line,” says Adams.
Other show highlights included an Automotive Career & Education Day, and Family Day sponsored by Medical Mutual of Ohio, highlighted by a Disney family cruise giveaway.
Football enthusiasts enjoyed Browns’ Night and Ohio State University’s Buckeyes’ Football Night, featuring future NFL stars Vernon Gholston and Kirk Barton as well as 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith.
The auto show also held its 10th Annual Classic Car Show Awards presentation.
That same day marked the Harvest for Hunger/Dealership Employee Appreciation Night food drive and the airing of “Auto Show ’08” on WEWS NewsChannel 5, the local ABC affiliate.
As Adams explains, the program was one of several that helped generate interest in the auto show.
“We had some 36.5 hours of broadcast programming from the auto show,” he notes.
More to the point, the auto show represents a significant opportunity for area dealers who see show goers as buyers-in-waiting.
“Our exit surveys tell us that roughly 40-50 percent of attendees are going to be in the market for a vehicle in the next 12 months,” notes Adams, who adds that organizers continue to do what they can to cater to that audience.
One way, he says, is by continuing to provide complimentary parking.
“When people walk into the door, they’re in a better mood if they don’t have to pay for parking. Otherwise, it makes for an expensive day.”
It’s that kind of thinking that has Adams already gearing up for the next show, Feb. 28-March 8, 2009.
“Dealers are going to need every boost they can get to help market their product,” he adds. “This next show, which is our 35th, could be the most important one we do for the business itself.”
Greenville: Safe driving focus, green vehicles draw crowdsWith a slew of car accidents involving student drivers in the months leading up to the South Carolina International Auto Show, ATAE Patrick Watson and his dealer members at the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association looked to Motor Trend Auto Shows for help.
“We had a number of initiatives to help with that theme,” notes Lauren Holzman, Motor Trend’s vice president of public relations. “They included the distribution of a ‘safe driving pledge’ and tips on how to become a safer, better driver.”
A section of the show floor was set aside for the safe driver initiative, something Holzman says positioned the show well in the community.
With high fuel prices now a fact of life, it also made sense for the auto show to help those in the market for a new vehicle to broaden their choice. That came in the form of the Green Trail, a way the show was able to organize the alternative fuel vehicles on display at the show.
Those attending the show also got to see the results of a newly renovated Carolina First Center (formerly the Palmetto Expo Center).
The $22 million project now features 315,000 square feet of exhibit space.
“Having what amounts to a new facility is always a highlight for auto show attendees,” says Holzman. “They get to see a refreshed convention center and people are always interested in seeing something new.”
Additional highlights at the show included the Ride and Drive “Chevrolet Experience” which featured the Malibu, Silverado and Impala vehicles.
Show goers were also able to take a trip down memory lane, thanks to a special collection of street rods and muscle cars made possible by Lowcountry Street Rodders of Charleston.
There was also a customized vehicle display with the latest aftermarket parts and accessories, courtesy of Team Mean Street.
Motor Trend also continued with a special one-year free subscription offer to its flagship magazine, courtesy of the dealership organization.
Las Vegas: On Black Friday, out come the car shoppersHow do you get people to an auto show that happens to be in a city like Las Vegas?
“To start with, this is a 24-hour town,” says Holzman, Motor Trend vice president of public relations. “We took a different look at things and decided to open an hour earlier but close earlier as well, knowing it’s pretty quiet at night.”
Another challenge? Dealing with the American Thanksgiving weekend - and, of course, “Black Friday,” purported to be the biggest shopping day of the year, as retailers gear up for Christmas.
“Our media pitch was ‘on the biggest shopping day of the year, come window shop at the auto show,’” says Holzman. “It worked. The show has great attendance on Friday and we promote it as an alternative to the craziness of the malls - especially for the guys. The idea was to find a way to become part of the news that is being covered.”
Also drawing crowds (who, after all, can likely handle only so much turkey anyway) was Toyota’s Highway to the Future: Mobile Hybrid Experience, located in the automaker’s display area. Among its features: the Prius Experience driving simulators which allows show goers to experience how Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system performs.
This is the town where Motor Trend first launched its program that offers a free subscription to its flagship publication, something Holzman says caught on like proverbial wildfire.
“We tested this at the Vegas show and it was so successful we did it at almost all the rest of the shows in the ’08 season and all shows will do it in ’09.”
Like other shows are expected to do, Las Vegas leveraged the subscription promotion to enhance its e-ticket strategy, the result being stronger online sales.
Providence: Show teams up with college students in unique programA combination of more concepts than might otherwise be expected and an interesting twist related to the Motor Trend “College Two-Fer” program made the Northeast International Auto Show in Providence, Rhode Island, a special one for ATAE Jack Perkins this past season.
“I think they were fairly persistent in requesting them,” he says. “When there is more than one show going on at once, there’s competition for the concepts so it makes it more difficult for us.”
Lauren Holzman, vice president of public relations efforts for Motor Trend Auto Shows, which produces the event, says one traditional promotional effort--the College Two-Fer (two students share one ticket for admission)--got an unexpected boost.
Holzman says the idea took off from there.
“They got to see first hand how we promote a show that’s only going to be in town for a few days, connecting with media and pitching story ideas,” she says. “They also helped out with faxing media alerts; they were a big help.”
But it got even better, says Holzman.
“They knew we were interested in expanding our relationship with colleges, so when we asked how we could do that, they got involved with the marketing of the show, using some of the tools they use to communicate to their fellow students.”
“It really worked out quite well,” says Holzman.
Jack Perkins says additional features, such as the traditional Kid’s Day (on the Sunday of the show), continued to help drive attendance, steady over the previous year.
Show goers could also print a $2 off coupon from the dealer association Web site.
“It was a show that worked out very well for us,” says Perkins.
Vancouver: Vintage cars help drive interestsPaul McGeachie admits he was surprised by the positive attention the Vancouver International Auto Show received with a new feature launched this past year.
“The media loved it,” says McGeachie, general manager of the show.
In setting up the competition, the “rules” were clear.
“We told the folks at the collector car shows - Port Coquitlam, Gastown Steamworks, and the Langley Cruise In - ‘bring one car each. That will be your ambassador car.’”
With show goers voting the “Best of the Best,” McGeachie told each of the collector car shows they “would have to be okay with the public’s choice.”
The result was a very positive experience, he says.
When it comes to promoting its event, Vancouver is not alone among auto show cities in not being certain as to what concept vehicles will be on the floor.
McGeachie has sidestepped that in his promotions by commissioning a student poster competition, offering a $1,000 honorarium as well as smaller prizes for work produced.
The awards program, which is open to second-year applied design students at Capilano College, generates at least two dozen entries.
Other contests included an annual Driving Adventure prize, featuring a $9,000 VIP Porsche Driving Experience one-day classroom and course session at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.
And one of the local tourism associations got involved in offering a celebrations package to auto show attendees.
McGeachie credits Vancouver-area media for helping successfully promote the show.
“We have a very diverse cultural mix in Vancouver, which is something that’s important to our show,” he notes. “We were impressed with how the ethnic media work well together.”
McGeachie is also looking ahead to a substantial renovation of the host B.C. Place facility that will include replacing the air-supported roof with one that retracts.
“Just eliminating the air locks is going to make a big difference to our move in and move out times,” he notes, adding that the Vancouver show will be the first to use the revamped facility in 2011, a year after the area hosts the Winter Olympics.
“There’s an excitement returning back to the downtown core.”
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