Here's How You Think We Can Save Auto Shows

Here's How You Think We Can Save Auto Shows

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Image for article titled Here's How You Think We Can Save Auto Shows
Photo: Steve DaSilva

This week marked the return of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which gave us the new Mustang and very little else. It seems even the reveal of a brand-new, hotly anticipated car can’t save the American auto show — but maybe you can. Yesterday, we sent shadowy government officials to your houses to ask how you would save auto shows, and today we’re sorting through the answers. Let’s see what you came up with.

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Make Them Free

Make Them Free

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

Make them free to attend.

Honestly, this is the most perplexing thing about the modern auto show to me. All these manufacturers and dealers are out here trying to sell me something and I have to pay THEM for the pleasure of attending, when I can visit their websites or showrooms for free?

Detroit is going on now and tickets are $20 for an adult or $50 for a family of up to five. Charging people for the pleasure of shopping for something they’re going to spend $30k+ on is just absurd.

Free stuff is, by definition, better than stuff that costs money. I would rather have something for nothing than something for something, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Submitted by: stoke

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3 / 17

A Slew of Changes

A Slew of Changes

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

I actually have a small list of things that have bugged me about the car show in Toronto (which I have attended pretty religiously every year where there isn’t a global pandemic):

  • Put greater focus on exhibits: The history of Cadillac! All the uses of the Model-T! Movie Cars! Basically, something fun in between looking at manufacturer cars.
  • No sales staff. Lots of product staff. The Toronto show is usually staffed by people that work at local dealerships, plus those that work for the Canadian wing of the automakers. Having a sales guy answer a question with “why don’t you come by our dealership to take a closer look” pisses me off and I’ve said unkind things to those sales guys in the past. Getting answers from actual product people who know the cars, and why they were built they way they were? That’s cool.
  • No locked doors. Looking at you Alfa Romeo and Cadillac. It’s nice that you come by, but being all elitist about who you let sit in your cars is not what a car show is about.
  • Focus more on brands, less on reproducing the dealer lot. Don’t just bring a Z, bring ALL the Z’s. Mazda did this when the ND was launched up here... there was this great display with an NA, NB and NC all in the same colour as the ND they were showing.
  • Experiences! An off-road park! Track time with a selection of new cars!

I have more...but I’ll stop there.

The distinction between sales staff and product staff is a niche, but crucial one — everyone wants to learn more about the vehicles they’re seeing, but no one wants the hard sell.

Submitted by: dolsh

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4 / 17

Show Off the Pedigree

Show Off the Pedigree

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

Bring cars the unwashed public will never see otherwise - Lambo needs to bring out a Miura to put beside their 2023 Aventador. Toyota needs to set out a 2000GT beside their 2023 86. Make it a travelling museum, not a travelling dealer lot.

Showing off the new Aventador and GR86 is cool, but why not give people a taste of where they came from? Show us the lineage, draw the parallels between old and new.

Submitted by: Honesty

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Adults Only, But Not Like That

Adults Only, But Not Like That

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

dedicate a few days of the show to adults only.

Nothing worse than trying to actually check out a vehicle you’re interested in buying, and some snot nosed kid is standing on the armrest sticking his head out of the sunroof

Avoidance of snot-nosed kids is one of the driving forces in my life. I aspire to see as few snot-nosed children in my years on this earth as humanly possible. I support this change.

Submitted by: i86hotodogs

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6 / 17

Movie Cars

Movie Cars

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

Considering how deadly dull vehicle styling is nowadays—all the nondescript Dove soap bar cars and blocks-on-wheels—maybe car shows should die.

But if we’re gonna to save car shows, give the public a reason to attend. And what do car-ish people who are on the bubble about attending want to see? Hollywood star cars—actual movie production cars and clones:

the Bullitt Mustang and Charger

the Starsky & Hutch Torino

the Back to the Future DeLorean

the 007 Aston Martin DB5

the Eleanor Mustang—original movie or remake

the Bumblebee Camaro

the Tucker from Tucker: the Man and his Dream

the Plymouth Fury from Christine

the Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point—original movie or remake

all the Supras and Chargers—just the top 50 iterations—from the F&F franchise

You want a hook to get people in the doors, this ought to do it.

I want to see a car show that brings the Charger from Bullitt, but not the Mustang. Let the Bullitt Mustang die, please.

Submitted by: the 1969 Dodge Charger Guy

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7 / 17

Timing Is Everything

Timing Is Everything

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

At least for Detroit, moving the NAIAS out of its traditional mid-winter time frame was not a smart move. It was a tradition and having attended it recently before the date change, very well attended.

At least, in the middle of winter, the interior of a convention center is a warm place to escape the cold without raising your own heating bill. But you have to go out into that same cold to get there, so, give and take.

Submitted by: bfisch1629

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8 / 17

Interactivity

Interactivity

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

To me, the way to solve car shows is to make them a hell of a lot more interactive. Take a car and turn it into a video game sort of. Imagine you get into a car and when you press start, the windshield shifts to show a scene of driving on a track or off-road or whatever. As you work the controls, regardless, the vehicle appears to drive down the track with hydraulics moving the car to simulate acceleration, braking, etc in response to the driver’s inputs while the speakers in the vehicle simulations the noises of driving down that road.

Obviously, setting up such a display would cost a lot, but it would give the guests an experience other than “I saw a $300k vehicle” to “I got to DRIVE a $300k vehicle!”

With today’s tech, it would be very much doable.

Plenty of auto shows actually do bring sim cabinets out on the floor. They may not feel like the real thing, but they’re a fun thing to try out.

Submitted by: hoser68

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9 / 17

Use Them to Shop

Use Them to Shop

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

How about we view auto shows as a less stressful way to figure out what kind of car we want to try out rather than going to the dealer where you feel like the salesperson is pointing a gun to your head that you must buy this particular car on the same day.

This feels right in line with the staffing points from earlier on in this slideshow. Fill the auto show with staff that can answer complex questions about the cars, but has no vested interest in making a sale, and it can become a place for that stress-free shopping experience.

Submitted by: Witchy Whale

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The Scavenger Hunt Approach

The Scavenger Hunt Approach

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

you have to go weird so here’s my idea:

instead of having a big location instead rent out various parking lots across the city.

Makers set up various booths across the city where you can learn about their new vehicles and earn bumper stickers.

Anyone who hits all the booths for the brand can come to a specific test track and actually drive one of their new experimental cars.

If you get all the stickers you get to test drive a vehicle from a high end luxury brand and get put in for a raffle for one of the experimental vehicles shown at the show (it’s not like they’re going to use it again anyways).

Since my earliest days on this earth, I have always enjoyed scavenger hunts. This would make auto shows an absolute pain for media to cover, and yet here I am wanting it anyway.

Submitted by: Bigburito

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11 / 17

Fun New Stuff, Pressure-Free

Fun New Stuff, Pressure-Free

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

The only new car auto show I’ve been to was in West Virginia. It was just one of those travelling deals, I think it might have been sponsored by Motor Trend or something like that. It was back in 2019 and it was...actually pretty cool. I got to see a lot of new vehicles in one place, sit in some interesting cars (the new Jeep Gladiator, Lexus LC 500, Mercedes G63 and AMG GT), and generally just get a feel for what was new in 2019.

Honestly, this is all I think we need anymore. Someplace to go an look at everything new in one place. Make it cheap or free to enter. Let people get in and out and touch the cars. No pressure from sales people, let the cars speak for themselves. Maybe through in a classic car show. Have some exotics. Auto makers are moving all their big reveals to live stream events and you know what? I think that’s fine.

The traveling circus approach, where an auto show moves around the country to various locales, is a very interesting one to me. You don’t hear about the West Virginia International Auto Show, but you might hear about it if NAIAS went to West Virginia.

Submitted by: dbeach84

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12 / 17

More, Better Merch

More, Better Merch

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

Better, higher quality SWAG.

Cool iPhone cases or diecast cars or T-shirts. I remember attending the Miami auto show in like 1997 and I got a diecast blue Saturn to match the one sitting on the display stand. I don’t give a crap about Saturn but that was pretty cool and memorable.

Free stuff! If you’re paying for a ticker, you at least deserve a swag bag to take home.

Submitted by: Unacceptably Dry Scones

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13 / 17

Drive the Cars

Drive the Cars

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

More ride & drive events.

I understand the challenges posed by these events, but I think it would be a huge boon to auto shows and the manufacturers if attendees could get a feel for the cars they’re shopping for without enduring the slog of going to a dealership.

People like to do things more than they like to see them. Let people drive the cars, and they’ll show up to your event.

Submitted by: Aldairion

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14 / 17

Interior Redecoration

Interior Redecoration

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

That’s an easy one.

NO CARPET.

The major new car auto show happens every year where I live in January. There’s carpet all over the place. You can’t touch a car without getting shocked repeatedly. I think years of going to this car show cured my stutter.

Sid, my friend, I gotta wonder what your footwear situation is at these shows. Shoe soles are generally an insulator, preventing the buildup of static. Are you going around these convention centers in your socks?

Submitted by: Sid Bridge

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15 / 17

North American International Specialty Equipment Market Association Auto Show

North American International Specialty Equipment Market Association Auto Show

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

If you’re going to charge admission, make it a combined open-to-the-public event with SEMA. And manufacturers need to bring more prototypes.

NAISEMAAS just rolls off the tongue, it’s a natural combination. I also cannot read it out loud without cracking up, which at least makes the name memorable.

Submitted by: elgordo47

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16 / 17

Build More Interesting Cars

Build More Interesting Cars

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

The last time I went to the NAIAS, it was to see the Buick Avista in 2016. I knew about it and wanted to see it.

Make cars that people want to see. You won’t beat the internet. People who care will already know what your new car looks like before it “debuts” at the show. Just make sure that it’s something that they want to see in person.

“Here’s an SUV that looks like our other SUVs, but it’s a little bigger than our little SUV and a little smaller than our big SUV!” isn’t going to draw the crowds.

Sometimes, the auto show isn’t the core issue — it’s a symptom, a trailing indicator. If people are disinterested in the cars automakers are putting out, of course they won’t venture out to an auto show to see them.

Submitted by: smalleyxb122

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