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Toronto AutoShow sets attendance record

Optimism and enthusiasm was everywhere at the Toronto auto show.

  • Detail of an automatic gear shifter in a new, modern car. Modern car interior with close-up of automatic transmission and cockpit background

I’m delighted to report that the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow was an overwhelming success, setting an all-time attendance record of 316,751 over its 10-day run.

Auto analysts have been forecasting that 2012 will be a breakout year for the North American auto industry. The record-breaking attendance at this year’s CIAS, along with a steady increase in car sales across Canada, seems to confirm their predictions.

On a personal note, I’d like to congratulate CIAS General Manager, Tom Tonks, CIAS President, Joel Cohen, and their respective staff members for their outstanding efforts and contributions to the 2012 CIAS; and a special thanks to all of the manufacturers, media partners and sponsors who helped make this a show to remember.

CIAS is a world-class event that requires more than a full year of planning and preparation to pull off. Work has already begun on the 2013 CIAS, which will mark the fortieth anniversary of Canada’s largest consumer show.

There was tremendous buzz in the air at this year’s AutoShow. I attended the Media Day and I can attest to the high level of excitement and energy that filled the various venues.

Fellow dealer principals, managers, automotive journalists, industry suppliers and peers all shared in the spirit of optimism for an industry that has struggled over the past few years.

The many visitors I spoke with echoed this positive sentiment. There was an upbeat atmosphere among attendees, and a general feeling of excitement about the new models, accessories and exhibits on display.

The 2012 CIAS featured many highlights. There were more than 40 Canadian premiers, including the much-anticipated Aston Martin One-77 sports car. Together, these premiers are an indication of the stellar reputation of the CIAS.

The theme of the 2012 CIAS was “The Next Dimension,” which accommodated social media interaction and permitted exhibitors to interact directly show goers. This trend was first identified two years ago, and was refined for this year.

New methods of power to the wheel, higher standards of fuel efficiency, onboard electronics, enhanced interiors and improved safety features were among the game-changing trends proudly on display.

To borrow a phrase, I remain cautiously optimistic about the retail automobile industry in Canada for 2012. Scotia Economic recently reported that Canadian car sales in January were up 15 per cent, and 9 per cent in February, over the same month last year, and that global automobile sales rose 6 per cent, compared to January 2011.

Indeed, a confluence of market factors — low interest rates, the high quality of automobiles from all manufacturers and plenty of pent-up demand — signal that 2012 could be a banner year for auto sales in Canada.

Of course, many visitors to the AutoShow use this event as a practical guide to researching their next vehicle purchase. If you are in the market to buy, I encourage you to research your purchase carefully.

Information on new vehicles has never been more plentiful than it is today, with countless newspapers, magazines and consumer websites devoted to all things automotive.

According to research presented at the recent Canadian Digital Dealer Conference in Toronto, consumers spent an average of 30 days gathering information about their next new vehicle purchase in 2011 (they spent 33 days in 2010, and 36 days in 2009).

Clearly, the time to influence a purchase is shortening, and that means dealership and manufacturer messages need to be clear, focused and easily accessible.

If you were inspired by any of the new models on display at the 2012 CIAS, then plan to visit your local new car dealership. Spring is a great time to buy a vehicle — especially this year with so many great incentives and programs available.

This column represents the view of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visit tada.ca. Sandy Liguori, president of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in the GTA.

  • Toronto AutoShow sets attendance record
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