Enlisting the aid of an auto show to help improve the state of the overall economy isn't a new concept to those who remember auto show history. In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked the automotive industry to seek ways to even out the seasonal employment downturn. The industry responded by moving its model year to the fall and the nation's two largest auto shows moved their dates to correspond with the new model year.
"Challenging times call for innovation and creativity," said 2009 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Mark Scarpelli. "Our industry has shown time and time again that we have creativity by the truckload, and this year's schedule of auto shows will help us to turn the corner.
"This is a year when the auto industry and auto shows need to move in concert with one another to help create a sustained momentum with confidence so that when a customer is motivated to walk into a showroom, he's going to find the vehicles he wants at prices he can afford-and financing to assist him," continued Scarpelli. "Our industry needs to ramp up interest starting in Los Angeles and then hold that interest level all the way through the New York show. As the nation's most influential consumer auto show, we're prepared to do our part to help provide the spark to ignite sales, not only in Chicago and the Midwest, but nationally, as well. We think that all auto shows should adopt the same attitude."
"There's no reason that all auto shows can't rise to the occasion for the same purpose," said show co-Chair John Phelan. "Our exhibiting manufacturers have told us that the Chicago show will be just as bold and appealing to the public as before. We welcome their enthusiasm and pledge to do everything we can to help maximize the effect of their beautiful displays to the public, and to the national and international media.
"The Chicago Automobile Trade Association is the nation's oldest and largest metropolitan dealer organization," continued Phelan. "We owe it not only to our group's members, but to dealers and manufacturers-across the country and around the globe-to give our industry its finest platform, its most flexible and accommodating stage, its most effective use of marketing dollars. Chicago is just a piece of the whole pie, but a uniquely significant one. We're eager to contribute in every way we can."
Everyone goes to an auto show to see what's new, but perhaps this year more than ever consumers will be looking to the shows to find out what's out on the horizon-and discover it's not far down the road until that next big thing becomes reality. There are multiple questions of which way to go. This year's show will address those questions and let everyone see what's next.
For instance, everyone is in favor of energy independence, but in what form will the industry respond to consumer demand? Fuel prices obviously impact everyone, but how will Washington influence the future? Certainly the questions are plentiful and this year they're being asked by the media, manufacturers and, most importantly, consumers. The vehicles they see on display in Chicago and other shows will give them the answers they seek, and demonstrate the creativity and responsiveness of auto manufacturers.
"The auto show has always been a strong influence on people who are in the market, or intending to enter the market soon," said Chairman Scarpelli. "While we can get a glimpse of what's on the far horizon and available in the 3-5 year range, there are millions who need new vehicles now. We'll show them that elements such as better mileage, safety, comfort and being environmentally responsible isn't far away-and in many cases already in our showrooms ready to be purchased now."
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