The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
is proposing new rules that would protect children in car seats
from side crashes. Under the rules, car seats would be tested in a specially designed sled test that simulates a vehicle traveling 30 mph striking the
side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15 mph. Federal safety regulators have said a new side-impact rule would add about 50 cents to the price
of a car seat, about $3.7 million for the industry. The new rules would take effect three years after a regulation is finalized.
On the heels of the launch of its
new F-150 pickup truck
, Ford Motor Company is now saying it will subsidize the cost of training and equipment needed to repair the vehicle's aluminum
panels. Ford spokesman Mike Levine, quoted by Edmunds.com
, said insurance costs and repair costs "will be competitive
with the current trucks." The company will subsidize 20% or up to $10,000 per dealership, said the Edmunds.com article. Ford unveiled the new F-150
vehicle at Detroit's 2014 North American International Auto Show
The man charged with marketing General Motors' biggest brand is expecting big things in 2014, thanks to 13 new-product launches in 2013 and
record sales of 4.98 million units. "This will be the year we make the move and continue to grow," Tom Mahoney
told Wards Auto World's
James A. Amend. Buoyed by the Silverado winning North American Truck of the Year, Mahoney added that Corvette's win on the North American Car
of the Year will also help. "In all of our communications, these two awards will be tagged, and we'll push that out and take advantage of it,"
Mahoney said. "It is the sort of third-party endorsement that shows that the vehicles are really special." Mahoney joined GM from Volkswagen of America last year.
A year ago, a massive overhaul of the way Virginia funds its transportation system included what has been deemed the "Prius tax," an annual fee originally expected to be $100 but knocked down to $64. Now it's $0 after the Virginia State Senate voted to repeal the measure, with the House of Delegates expected to concur, writes Matthew Phillips, associate editor for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The hybrid tax, Phillips writes, "was doomed from the start and, rightly or wrongly, will likely be remembered as a failed attempt by state conservatives to stick their finger in the eyes of greenies."
When it comes to responding to Internet-based queries, the national average can be as long as three to five hours, according to dealership consultants. That simply won't wash, according to an article by David Barkholz that appears in Automotive News. One dealer representative, Alex Jefferson of Tallahassee, Fla.-based Proctor Honda, expects salespeople to respond to Internet leads within 20 minutes. "The closer you can reach them while they're in the right mental state [to listen] the better your chances are of getting them to come in." Slow responses are no longer acceptable to shoppers conditioned by the likes of Google and Amazon. Barkholz also quotes studies that show Internet leads account for about 20% of all auto sales in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal
is reporting that Volvo Cars, the former Ford subsidiary now owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has started development of a subcompact vehicle designed to compete against rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. Although several years from entering the market, the vehicle would be positioned to compete in Western markets where Chinese automakers have so far struggled. Development of the project is said to be underway at a facility in Sweden that the automaker opened last year. The WSJ story dovetails with an announcement that German supplier Brose Group would supply components for the new vehicle as well as other Geely models.
It just makes sense that embracing every opportunity to involve local vendors in the auto show experience is a good thing.
That's what happened at the most recent Alabama International Auto Show, with show director Jennifer Whisenant
, who runs the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association
, making a deliberate move in that direction.
Local vendors included Covert Customs
, a performance shop; Colors on Parade
, which deals with automotive paint repairs; and MobilityWorks
, which customizes vehicles for customers.
"They were extremely pleased with the exposure and were popular with the crowds, too," noted Whisenant.
Whisenant and her team also decided to substantially upgrade the quality of their show program, setting aside the traditional newsprint publication that used glossy paper and full-color as the best possible presentation of what is, after all, a very visual event.
"Again, we had a lot of very positive response from attendees and advertisers," added Whisenant.
And while attendance was almost the same as last year, that eight percent increase held its own.
Even so, Whisenant has plans for next year's effort to take better advantage of "buy one, get one" ticket promotions and various specialty days, all with the goal of increasing attendance even further.
Whisenant said days focused on members of various military branches, and senior citizens will be among her priorities for the next show.
Profile: Alabama International Auto Show
Nov. 21-24, 2013
Place: Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
275,000 square feet
Adults, $8; Children, $4; 6-11, Free
Thurs., noon to 9 pm; Friday, 10 am-9 pm; Saturday, 10 am-9 pm; Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Produced by: Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association
ATAE Jennifer Whisenant
When cold weather and snow threatened the Boston area, Barbara Pudney
of Paragon Group, producer of the New England International Auto Show, was a little concerned.
She needn't have been.
"It didn't keep people away," noted Pudney.
Even an initial second concern - that Sunday's NFL game pitting the New England Patriots
against the Denver Broncos
would negatively affect attendance - didn't seem to materialize, although it did produce a notable shift in demographics.
"It was a very international crowd on Sunday," said Pudney. "There are more than 90 colleges in the greater Boston region and those schools have a good percentage of students from around the world. It was obvious just from scanning the crowds that we had a different mix of show goers."
Whatever the crowd's composition, it appears that TV's AMC Original Series "The Walking Dead"
is a popular one, judging from the reaction to Hyundai's "Walking Dead Zombie Survival Machine," a Santa Fe-based configuration that came to life after the automaker (the official "Walking Dead" vehicle sponsor) ran a contest.
Built by Galpin Auto Sports
and based on a fan design that started with The Walking Dead Chop Shop configurator
(yes, there is such a thing), the vehicle was a mega-hit at the show.
"We even had a photo area that would let visitors create their own digitally enhanced photos," said Pudney. "There were always crowds around the display."
Other crowd pleasers at the show included exotics, among them the new Maserati Ghibli and the Rolls Royce "Wraith," based on a heavily modified BMW 7-Series chassis.
Pudney said there's one initiative she'll be crossing off her list for next year's show: the basic radio remote.
"It's just not worth it," she said. "People don't pay attention to them, they take time to set it up and we're finding that we can still get the on-air mentions without giving up valuable floor space."
Profile: New England International Auto Show
Jan. 16-20, 2014
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
340,000 square feet
Adults, $12; Children (6-12), $6; Under 6, Free
Thurs-Fri., noon-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-9 pm; Sun, 10 am to 7 pm, Mon, 10 am-6 pm
Paragon Group, Inc.
email@example.com, 781.237.5533, ext. 104
It helps to have friends in "auto places" when you're trying to put together what may be the definitive display of the legendary Corvette sports car.
Thankfully for Loretta Allman
, who runs the Charlotte International Auto show, she has just that connection among her members: the Hendrick Automotive Group
That collaboration saw to it that seven generations of Corvettes were all in one place, including the very first and second (by serial numbers) 2014 models, which were on display next to the first Corvette Stingray (a 1967 model).
The historical theme was woven throughout the show, which enjoyed an 8 percent increase in attendance over last year, says Allman. "We had a very impressive series of 'then and now' exhibits, including a 1958 Impala next to the latest 2014 model and a '66 Mustang next to a 2014 model."
That 2014 Mustang pays homage to a vehicle that pre-dates names like Saleen, Roush and Shelby in Mustang racing history involving a local Charlotte company "Holman and Moody" and the "Tour de France Automobile" rally. See www.hm50th.com
for more details.
Another notable display was the restored and customized 1991 Ford Bronco
that was presented by RK Motors in honor of a fallen hero, U.S. Navy Seal Adam Brown, who died in action in Afghanistan in 2010. Author Eric Biehm has chronicled Brown's story, which includes how he saved the lives of several of his men. The vehicle restoration was part of a "Give Forward" campaign that raised more than $65,000 for Brown's wife and two children.
Profile: Charlotte International Auto Show
Nov. 21 - 24, 2013
Charlotte Convention Center
280,000 square feet
Adults, $10; Children under 12, Free
Thurs-Fri., noon-9 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun, 10 am to 6 pm
Greater Charlotte Automobile Dealers Association
Loretta Allman, Show Director
While it's clear that the thousands of people who attend the dozens of auto shows throughout North America have their eyes on their next purchase - numerous surveys show those decisions are very likely to be made within six months after an auto show - they're also there for the longer-term view.
Automakers are taking that cue as they did at this year's DFW Auto Show in Fort Worth, where an unprecedented number of "future vehicles" found their way to exhibits at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
And it wasn't just the models that were new. Manufacturers such as Bentley, McLaren, Maserati and Rolls-Royce were at the show for the first time.
Anyone who runs an auto show, including Jo McKinley, vice president of the DFW New Car Dealers Association, will tell you that timing is everything. And because the show dates included Halloween night, a popular "Trunk or Treat" event meant children received a bag they filled with candy and other trinkets by visiting show exhibitors.
Another family oriented feature was the Kids' Fun Zone, complete with a "bouncy house," inflatable obstacle course, art center, pre-school Grand Prix and a 22-foot slide.
Perhaps at the other end of the age range was a return of what is now planned to be an annual event: a Memory Lane Classic Car Show that featured more than 75 all-American vehicles from 1979 and older, with show goers selecting a "People's Choice Award."
Profile: DFW Auto Show at Dallas
Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2013
Place: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
(formerly Dallas Convention Center)
650,000 square feet
Adults, $12; $1 discount coupons available at franchised new car dealers who are members of DFW NCDA; Senior Citizens 65 and older, $5; Children, 6-12, $5; and Children 5 and under, Free
Wed.-Thurs., 4 pm-10 pm; Fri.-Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-7 pm
Produced by: Dallas Fort Worth Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association
ATAE Lee J. Chapman, President,
Dallas Fort Worth Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association
Jo McKinley, VP and show coordinator
Surely one of the seemingly enduring phenomena these days is how the public has embraced just about everything social.
It's little surprise then that organizers of the Connecticut International Auto Show took that a little deeper with a series of photo booths, notes Barbara Pudney
of show producer Paragon Group.
"We decided to be more interactive with our guests this year," notes Pudney. "Those photo booths were a big hit, especially the RC racing, 'crack the vault,' and 'guess the crushed car' contests among others."
While the "basic" radio remote that Pudney found wasn't effective at the Boston show (see story elsewhere in this issue), a variation on that initiative - a "red carpet" radio remote stage that Paragon built was warmly received. "That's something we will definitely repeat," said Pudney. "The radio stations talked it up and the public felt special when they stopped by."
The show experienced an increase in attendance - 8.6 percent better than last year.
Profile: Connecticut International Auto Show
Nov. 22-24, 2013
Place: Connecticut Convention Center
140,000 square feet
Adults, $10; Children (6-12), $5; Free for 6 and under
Fri.-Sat., 11 am-9 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm
Barbara Pudney, Paragon Group
ATAE Jim Fleming, President
Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association
A significant change to the most recent LA Auto Show was actually something that Brendan Flynn, the show's senior director of marketing and communications, began envisioning a few years ago.
"We were seeing more and more exhibitor applications from companies that we hadn't seen before - software and hardware suppliers to the industry that we weren't used to seeing at an auto show," notes Flynn.
As the momentum in interest with those non-traditional exhibitors began to increase - nearly exponentially - the LA Auto Show saw an opportunity and the most recent show's Connected Car Expo was born.
With 40 high-level speakers (including Ford marketing chief Jim Farley) along with separate exhibit space, the inaugural event was an instant winner, says Flynn.
Although technically separate from the LA Auto Show, the Connected Car Expo, a one-day conference combined with a three-day expo, was clearly billed as part of the excitement that the auto show generates, and one that will most definitely return at the 2015 LA Auto Show.
As far as the traditional LA Auto Show is concerned, a 12 percent bump in attendance was seen as evidence that momentum in interest continues to grow among the car-buying public.
From an organizational standpoint, the firm that produces the LA Auto Show - ANSA Productions - has new leadership in Terri Toennies, who took over general manager duties from the retiring Andy Fuzesi a year ago last October. Toennies has a wealth of experience in mega-event planning and most recently served as general manager of the Las Vegas Sunset Station Hotel/Casino.
Many of the changes at the LA Auto Show are arguably the result of Toennies' focus on raising the stature of an already impressive event.
From the perspective of Cliff Ray
, the coordinator of the most recent, and newly named Miami International Auto Show, being one of the first out of the gate with several Ride and Drive events was a highlight of the show, which recorded an 8 percent attendance increase.
But so were at least a couple of custom attractions, including Havana Classics, which featured a dozen vehicles reminiscent of Cuba of yesteryear, and the "Topless in Miami" showcase of convertible versions of the Porsche 911 4S Carrera Cabriolet, Chrysler 200, Fiat Abarth, and Nissan 370 Z, to name a few.
ATAE Richard Baker
said manufacturers "really stepped up their displays with many interactive activities to both engage our customers and entertain them."
Those features included Ride and Drives sponsored by Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Scion, Mazda and Toyota.
Camp Jeep distinguished itself by marking the one-millionth participant in a series that has offered guests from a number of shows across the country the opportunity to be part of their own off-road adventure.
Ray also said two initiatives which returned from last year gained even more popularity this year, one being the display of "Twitter boards" that directed show goers to various parts of the show, and the integration of social media with a People's Choice Award that honored the vehicle with the most mentions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram each day. (The 2014 Maserati Ghibli sedan, Lamborghini Aventador and Corvette Stingray were among the winners.)
"We're seeing firsthand the incredible impact Social Media is having on the auto industry," added Ray. "Our show is capturing a youthful, enthusiastic new audience of car buyers looking for entertainment. And we're happy to provide it with our new exhibits and contests."
Profile: Miami International Auto Show
Nov. 8-17, 2013
Miami Beach Convention Center
600,000 square feet
Adults, $12; Children (6-12), $6; under 6, Free.
Nov. 8, 5 pm-11 pm (following press preview); Sat-Mon. (Nov. 9-11) 11 am-11 pm; Tues-Fri., 2 pm-11 pm, Sat (Nov. 16), 11 am-11 pm; Sun (Nov. 17), 11 am-9 pm
South Florida Auto Dealers Association
Cliff Ray, Show Coordinator
ATAE Richard Baker
President, South Florida Automobile Dealers Association
Automotive Trade Association Executives
The Auto Show Report
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, VA 22102
ATAE Executive Director