Why auto shows continue to be essential to the industry


Auto shows are a smorgasbord for potential buyers as well as car buffs.

This year’s 62nd San Francisco Chronicle International Auto Show, which runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 at Moscone Center, will introduce the public to the latest technological advances and designs being offered by the world’s major manufacturers and provide experts to answer questions in an informative, pressure free non-sales environment.

“If you want to explore the latest and greatest that the auto industry has to offer, then without a doubt your first stop should be a local auto show,” said Charlie Gilchrist, 2019 National Automotive Dealers chairman and a dealer.

“It’s where consumers can still touch and feel products across all segments and brands. It’s no coincidence that more than 11 million consumers are attending U.S. auto shows every year – with 68 percent of them planning a new-vehicle purchase within 12 months”.


Three out of four of the folks who go to car shows are there to shop for a vehicle, according to Steve Bruyn, Chief Executive Officer of Foresight Research.

“For the San Francisco show last year, 70 percent said they would buy a car or truck in the next year,” said Bruyn. “At the show, they get a full line of cars.

“They are there to shop and enjoy the environment, but often just come to see a car or truck in which they are particularly interested.”

Sometimes they just want to look.

“This is my first time attending an auto show and have never seen so many beautiful cars in my life!” said San Leandro resident Anna L., after her visit to the show.

“I love how they allow people to sit in most of the cars, except for the crazy expensive ones. They have a mixture of exotic cars, classic ones, and regular cars like Honda, Lexus etc.

“My favorite part is hopping onto a cop’s motorcycle and messing around inside a CHP car. The cop said he didn’t mind as long as I didn’t touch his computer.”

The San Francisco show features many of the 2020 models, but also showcases alternative fuel vehicles, exotic sports cars, elegant classic cars, a Car Club exhibit and modified street vehicles in the Auto Salon.

Another factor in favor of car shows is the absence of aggressive sale staff. Manufacturers are prohibited from making sales pitches at the show. They must rely on their displays to attract the public.

“It is really all about what the public wants to see and experience,” said Kevin Diamond, show director.

“Attendees are also attracted by the opportunity to talk to knowledgeable product specialists in a pressure free non-sales environment. They can also test drive several of the vehicles, Diamond said.

Among the vehicles expected to be available for test drives are the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Dodge Durango SRT, Fiat 124 Spider, Ram 1500 Rebel, Jeep Cherokee, Gladiator and Wrangler and Toyota 2020 Corolla Hybrid, 2019 Camry, Prius and RAV 4.

“Show goers, who may be buying a car or a truck next week or next year, want to know what new models are available within their price range and preferred style,” said Diamond. “If they want to compare vehicles they are interested in, the car show is their best option.”

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