Organizers of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) are cautiously optimistic the show will return in 2022 after being scrapped this year because of COVID-19.
“We’re planning on it, we’ve done some homework on it, we’ve spoken to manufacturers and they all want to come back and be part of it because it will be the first show in two years,” Cliff Lafreniere, CIAS president, said in a recent interview. “So, unless something drastically changes and the [COVID19] vaccine doesn’t fix things, the show will continue. I think everybody is going to be excited to get back out and get into an auto show.”
In-person auto shows around the globe were forced into cancellation during the pandemic, but are starting to resurface. In China, the Shanghai auto show, which runs from April 21-28, is currently underway.
The Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) sponsors CIAS, the largest consumer trade show in Canada, traditionally held at Toronto’s convention centre in February.
“We’ve all been told to stay away from people and don’t travel, so I’m thinking when the auto show opens next year there’s going to an appetite for people to go out and explore again,” said Lafreniere, dealer principal of Pinewood Park Motors in Kirkland Lake, Ont.
CIAS had planned to team up with other Canadian auto shows and launch a virtual event in February, but those plans were scrapped, in part, because of insufficient automaker support.
Lafreniere said the 2022 show will likely be slightly different from past events because of potential lingering effects of the virus. Attendees, for example, could be wearing masks and there could be some social distancing measures in place.
“I don’t think we’ll really know exactly what kind of show we’ll be able to present until we know what the government regulations are going to be,” Lafreniere said. “There’s still some stuff up in the air, but come late fall we’ll know exactly where we are and what kind of show it will be and whether we have to have 14-foot aisles or can still stick with 10-foot aisles.”
Lafreniere, who ended his stint as TADA president, said he is looking forward to putting his personal stamp on the auto show next year.
“There will be some changes to what I originally would have thought two years ago, just simply because of the uncertainty right now,” he said.
CIAS general manager Jason Campbell said he is “as confident as anybody can be” that the event will return next year pending the continued rollout of the vaccine.
“The hunger amongst our clients and the public to come back is strong,” he said. “We’re pushing on all cylinders to go ahead the way we did in 2020.”