Are Auto Shows Still Relevant? Post-NY Auto Show Musings
Like a traveling circus that moves from town to town, yet another auto show has landed in Manhattan. Auto manufactures try to guide this circus by showing off everything from the mundane to their most exotic acts to keep the audience interested. There are parties, awards, and countless press conferences and releases. Auto journalists descend en mass to try and prop up the bland, and breathlessly overhype the most exciting cars. Car geeks show up to drool and blog about the latest and greatest, or pass judgment on perceived OEM mistakes. Finally, consumers are allowed in to check out vehicles as part of the shopping process– or perhaps just looking for something to do over the Easter Weekend. Since the consumer is arguably the most important part of the auto world (they are the ones buying the cars, after all) do auto shows even matter anymore to them? I doubt it. When was the last time you ran into someone who said that seeing a car at an auto show was the final piece of the puzzle that swayed them to purchase that particular vehicle? Auto geeks and petrol heads on forums don’t count. I’m talking about your Aunt and Uncle from Poughkeepsie. The ones looking to replace their 2002 Hyundai Sonata. What’s there for them? PHOTOS: See more images of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata
On a practical level, not much. You’re not allowed in many of the vehicles. In some cases, you can’t even get close to the cars and trucks. The first few opening days can be crowded enough that you don’t get to see the cars up close anyway. Manufactures bring out super cars you can’t afford. And do you really care enough about the new Chevy Trax to pay for parking, admission, and concessions in Manhattan? Nope. Consumers can log onto the internet and check out vehicles instantly. When magazines finally are released, potential buyers read reviews. They head to their local dealer to get a test drive.
Auto shows are, however, a great way for sites to bring traffic and offer new goodies to the auto enthusiast crowd. For gear heads, these exhibitions are like Christmas. You might see something that excites you as much as that pony you asked for when you were six, but there’s also a lot of boring releases that fall under bare necessities. This year’s Chevy Trax for instance. I would compare the Trax to receiving socks and underwear from Grandma. While not bringing a thrill, Chevy will probably sell a ton since they fit a necessary market segment.
PHOTOS: See more images of the 2015 Chevrolet Trax
Should the average consumer attend an auto show like the New York International Auto Show? Absolutely. Go, and bring the kids. While not being practical for the average Joe, they are fun to attend. This year’s event in Manhattan has an exhibition on the history of the Miata, as well as a celebration the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. You might not get to sit in them, but seeing some of the sports cars on display can spark a budding enthusiast’s mind. Auto shows are a great chance to mix with people of varied level of interests and knowledge about cars. It’s a type of Cars and Coffee meet of enormous proportions. You also might see new technology in action during a demonstration. While perhaps not as relevant to their immediate audience as they once were, auto shows are an opportunity to bring some fun back to how enthusiasts feel about cars, and that’s what it really is about.
NYIAS: See all the debuts and galleries from the 2014 New York International Auto Show