Canadian auto show organizers are planning to run their events in 2022 after COVID-19 shut them down in 2021 – and in some cases the last two years – but they will be doing so without some manufacturers that supported them previously because of fallout from the pandemic.
Organizers of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS), which runs Feb. 18-27 and the Montreal International Auto Show (MIAS) that precedes it Jan. 21-30, say several manufacturers are taking a pass. The list includes Honda/Acura, Volkswagen, Mazda, Mitsubishi, BMW, Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover.
Companies planning to return include General Motors, Stellantis, Ford/Lincoln, Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus, Hyundai/Genesis, Kia and Subaru.
MIAS Executive Director Luis Pereira said manufacturers opting out have cited the ongoing inventory squeeze.
“Due to Covid-19, together with the chip shortages affecting production and budgets, they opted to pull out of the show in January,” said Pereira. “However, they are looking at participating in a smaller capacity in our EV zone if they have products available.”
CIAS General Manager Jason Campbell said auto shows will feature rigorous health-and-safety protocols.
“We, together with Montreal, and I’m sure every other show in Canada is going to have very exacting protocols in place and probably more so than is mandated by government,” he said.
“We know people want to be safe in this environment. And manufacturers have some of the most stringent requirements on their own operations.”
John Lindo, spokesman for JLR, said his company is bowing out from auto shows, but may return the following year.
“We always evaluate what the most efficient use of our marketing budget is, and with the potential uncertainty of crowds in 2022 we need to watch and reassess moving forward,” he said. “We hope to be back in 2023.”
Both Pereira and Campbell said there has also been interest from EV manufacturers Polestar, VinFast and Imperium Motor Company to exhibit at their shows. Campbell said Tesla, which has been part of the Toronto show for four years, has indicated a desire to be placed in a more prominent location next year.
The deadline for manufacturers to confirm attendance at CIAS is the end of November, said Campbell.
Pereira said the deadline for the Montreal show is mid-November.
Charles Drouin, managing director of the Quebec City International Auto Show, March 8-13, said organizers are committed for 2022. “At the end, the manufacturers have the final decision,” he said. “I’m optimistic [about the show].”
Organizers of the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show, March 9-13, are “cautiously optimistic” the event will proceed next.
“We’re … waiting for manufacturers to make their final decision,” said Jim Gillespie, of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association which runs show. “They are just waiting in the wings. I think it will take another month, which might be okay for my show in March.”
“There are some manufacturers that are not supporting [shows] because of inventory shortages or various other reasons but are planning to come back in 2023,” said Eleasha Naso, manager of the Edmonton show, which runs from April 6-10. “We’re down a few, but have strong support from others. It’s pretty exciting to be back in auto shows. Consumer demand is quite high. We’ve done consumer surveys and everyone is quite keen to come back.”
She added her show will have the potential to feature up to 400 vehicles for test drives compared to 30 the last time, and will be able to accommodate the extra load thanks to software designed to facilitate bookings.
As well, she said the show will feature for the first time a 20,000-square foot section geared specifically for electric vehicles.
Jason Heard, executive director of the Vancouver International Auto Show that runs March 23-27, said the pandemic has prompted organizers to consider new ways of staging events.
“It may not be the same, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” said Heard. “We’re all dealing with things in different ways and some of us will come up with some fantastic engaging ideas, hopefully retain some of the manufacturers that are kind of grumbling at this stage.”