The 2023 edition of the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show and Vehicles & Violins charity gala have been cancelled.
Jim Gillespie, executive manager of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association (CMDA), said in a news release the decision was made at a meeting of dealer members Nov. 17, and he blamed insufficient participation by automakers.
The show, which had been scheduled for March 8-12 at BMO Centre at Stampede Park, had been cancelled the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which aborted the 2020 event two days after it opened.
In a phone interview he said: “We had to make the decision on whether to go ahead or not because all our commitments had to be confirmed and paid for Nov. 21,” he said, adding “it wasn’t due to any disinterest on the part of our member dealers.”
The news release said that “despite the initial excitement around this landmark show returning to Calgary, realities around the ongoing interruptions to the global supply chain means that automobile manufacturers, automotive dealers and after-market distributors are not in a position to commit to participating in the show.”
Gillespie, manager of the auto show, expressed his regret at having to make the difficult announcement. “We have been extremely busy working with all our partners and manufacturers in anticipation of our show returning to Calgary, so it was very disappointing that we had to make the decision not to move forward.
“With several manufacturers unable to participate, we didn’t feel we could produce a show we could be proud of and, most importantly, a show that would be at the same level that attendees have come to expect from us.”
It’s been like a snowball, he said. First, on Nov. 14, Ford cancelled participation in auto shows everywhere except for the major events. Stellantis followed Ford’s lead two days later and others had been holding off making a firm decision.
“In Calgary, only General Motors and Nissan were firmly committed to the show,” said Gillespie.” Since we had to commit ourselves to holding the show by Nov. 21, we needed to make a decision to cancel or hold the show which would have put us in a position to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I spent Friday informing suppliers and sponsors of the decision. It wouldn’t be fair to consumers to go ahead with only two manufacturers.
Electric vehicle manufacturers have not come to the party, either, seeing as the uptake of EVs in Alberta and the prairies in general has been light.”
He added that exotics, which have been growing participants in the past, have backed out, saying they had no cars. “Supply chain issues are likely a large part of the decisions,” he said.
“That and the fact that the majority of exotic vehicles are owned by a single group based in Toronto.”
The announcement will be a blow to Calgary charitable groups who will see a major chunk of their income disappear or at least be reduced.
The Calgary show has long been recognized for its significant donations to Calgary and area charities. Much of the funding has been generated through the proceeds from both the Vehicles & Violins Gala and the CMDA Charitable Foundation.
“We won’t let those people down,” said Gillespie. “We will find a way to generate the funding needed.”
VANCOUVER, OTTAWA AXED
Shows in Ottawa and Vancouver are also being cancelled next year.
"There will be no traditional auto show in 2023," said Vancouver auto show manager Eric Nichol. "We are working on pivoting to a new regional format." He declined to give further details until plans are finalized.
Peter Ginsberg, producer of the Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto Show, said inventory and microchip shortages have contributed to the event's cancellation next year.
Eleasha Naso, executive director of the Edmonton Motor Dealer Association said the Alberta capital’s show is going ahead April 14 to 16, which is four days shorter than previous shows.
She would not reveal any changes planned for the show at Edmonton Expo Centre.