CIAS also is offering returning automakers a 10-per-cent discount to rent display space. Hyundai Canada CEO Don Romano said that if attendance is disappointing, automakers might question whether it was worth the cost.
“But it’s a risk we’re willing to take,” Romano said. “Those of us returning are going to bank on people coming out and still being excited about seeing the new products.
“My forecast is, it’s going to be a big show, and we’re going to have good attendance because there aren’t that many cars at the dealerships right now. And demand is strong for automobiles, and electric vehicles are off the chart.”
Michael Bouliane, spokesman for Toyota Canada, said the automaker looks forward to “showing off ... several exciting new models and four different electrified powertrains” at the show.
Companies planning to return so far include General Motors, Stellantis, Ford/Lincoln, Nissan/ Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus, Hyundai/Genesis, Kia and Subaru.
Automakers skipping the show include Honda/Acura, Volkswagen, Mazda, Mitsubishi, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo.
JLR might return to CIAS in 2023, said John Lindo, former spokesman for the automaker.
“We always evaluate what the most efficient use of our marketing budget is,” said Lindo, who spoke to Automotive News Canada shortly before his departure from JLR Nov. 12. “And with the potential uncertainty of crowds in 2022, we need to watch and reassess moving forward.”
Campbell said the ongoing global inventory shortage is also prompting some automakers to take a pass. “The impact chip shortages have had on manufacturers and the availability of product is not an insignificant hurdle that they are facing.”
‘MAKE THE BEST OF WHAT WE HAVE’
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, auto shows globally were having to reinvent themselves amid the growing number of automakers abandoning large-scale events. During the height of the pandemic, Toronto organizers had attempted to stage a virtual-only event for CIAS 2021, but were forced to cancel because of tepid interest from automakers.
Asked whether 2022 would be a make-or-break year for the show, Campbell said the challenges facing the event are “very unique. ... It’s a temporary situation, and we’re going to have to make the best of what we have, but I’m sure we can.”
Tickets go on sale in December, and a $1-million marketing campaign launches in January. While the amount is similar to previous years, Campbell said, “we need to show the manufacturers that we’re serious about making this a success again.”
Organizers are heartened by a recent survey of about 23,000 attendees of the past two shows. More than 90 per cent said they would definitely return or seriously consider returning next year, and more than 52 per cent said they would definitely attend as long as stringent health and safety rules were in place.
To comply with provincial health regulations and to allay safety fears, CIAS is enacting a series of protocols, Campbell said.
All workers, exhibitors and attendees must be masked and fully vaccinated. Aisles will be widened, and attendee numbers will be regulated by timed-entry ticketing to allow for physical distancing.
“Every year it’s important for the show to succeed — this is no different,” said Campbell. “Economically, it’s critical that we always make the show a big success for us and the manufacturers.”