Do Families Still Go To Auto Shows?

November 24, 2010

Back in the day -- translation, when I was a kid – my family couldn’t wait for the auto show season to come around. I'm from Michigan, home of the original Big Three (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), and back then, the Detroit Auto Show was a must-see event that just about everyone in town attended over the course of the show’s public dates. Then, since we weren’t that far by car from Chicago, sometimes we were lucky enough to pile in the family sedan to hit the Windy City to see what else the automakers were showcasing.

Of course, as kids, my brother and I loved to sit in the muscle cars. I wondered what it would be like to be one of the models talking up the latest offering on the turntables for hours on end. Did they have to pay for the privilege? Years later, I learned just how grueling such a job was, with the models basically going on the auto show circuit across the country. But, at the time, it just seemed so glamorous – as did everything else connected with the shows.

Back then, everybody said America had a love affair with cars. Somewhere along the intervening years, it seems like that’s not so much true anymore. Sure, there’s a bit of buzz here and there over a model or two – and it is spread out among all the automakers (which is good) – but there does seem to be so much criticism and Monday-morning quarterbacking these days. People complain that automakers should have put this engine or suspension on a car right out of the gate, or did what they did with European models, or that they didn’t go far enough, weren’t bold enough, and on and on.

But some of the rest of us, those of us with families, do need to put down some money on a replacement car in the near future. Families want cars that look good, run well, are affordable, safe, and offer the kind of comfort and convenience that we need.

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But do we go to auto shows anymore?

Using the auto shows as a venue, automakers showcase new models, concept cars, and green vehicles. On opening day here in Los Angeles, as I suppose it happens on opening day elsewhere, there wasn’t a lot of excitement over the electrics and hybrids (aka the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt), despite all the press attention. At least, that’s what the local print media had to say about it.

Instead, there was comment about the guys in muscle car T-shirts hanging around the performance cars from various automakers – the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, 2011 Dodge Charger, super exotics, etc.

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There have been some positive comments about the redesigned 2011 Hyundai Elantra floating around various sites, including other sites in our High Gear Media empire. And the Nissan Ellure concept compact sedan (with hybrid powertrain) looks great.

But I wonder how many of the commenters in various forums actually go to the auto shows? I mean, I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood that goes to the Los Angeles Auto Show. There isn’t one performance or muscle car anywhere around my neck of the woods. What is very evident, however, is how many people in L.A. drive a Toyota Prius. But then, everyone in the rest of the country already knew that, right?

With all the federal regulations, the economy just beginning to crawl out of the tank, and consumers hoping to look forward to a brighter tomorrow, isn’t it time for a little excitement? After all, auto shows are relatively cheap entertainment for the family. It’s an opportunity to see what’s available now, what’s coming soon, and maybe a few cars to dream about.

All I can say is, if there’s an auto show near you, pack up the kids and head on over. You might just be surprised at all the good and affordable products automakers have to offer consumers. Oh, and there are plenty of muscle, performance and luxury vehicles as well.
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