New vehicle auto shows make the rounds around the country at the same time each year: Detroit in January, Philadelphia in February, New York at Easter, Los Angeles in November, and so on. It’s similar in Europe, with the shows on a repeating schedule, although some of them have moved to alternate years.
These shows certainly have their fans. For those who live within a reasonable distance from the venues, calendars are eagerly marked in anticipation, because some folks attend every time, year-in and year-out. At the same time, there are “non-car people” who might say they’d rather see the dentist than see the shiny new cars and trucks on display in a convention center. Certainly, those who are passionate about all things automotive get their delights from kicking the tires, and maybe catching a glimpse at a future concept or two, and never miss a visit.
Let’s say that you are going to be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. If you’re getting ready for a new set of wheels, then it should be an exciting time. Unfortunately, we have heard the horror stories about new car dealers who still treat prospects in a less-than-favorable way, although we’d like to think that such practices are becoming less prevalent. Aside from that, many people are so busy with life that it can be a challenge just to find the time to shop for a car. If you are in fact ready to spend your hard-earned bucks on something new, a new car show becomes an ideal way to begin your shopping experience.
Below, we examine in greater detail the reasons why attending an auto show, especially if you’re not an enthusiast, can help you plan your next move along the car-buying continuum.
All the new vehicles are in one indoor location
Looking at a possible worst-case scenario like New York, just getting to the show is going to take some effort and some cash. Whether by subway or by car, it’s not inexpensive to get to the Javits Center in Manhattan. But look what happens once you’re there: you have 3 floors of this ginormous building chock full of all new product, and if you’re early enough, you have all day to take it in.
Whether it’s New York, or a town near you that’s easier to travel to, an auto show guarantees that all the cars and trucks on your shopping list are in one location. No matter if it’s the blistering heat of summer or a bone-chilling blast of winter, the indoor setting will keep you comfortable and dry. When you need a break, grab a bite and a drink, re-energize yourself, and hit that floor again!
There’s no driving across town from dealer to dealer
There are dozens of brands, and hundreds of models, for sale at any time. If your shopping list includes a half-dozen makes, you could easily spend most of a Saturday driving from one dealer to the next. At an average visit length of 90 minutes, a complete weekend day could be consumed by such an excursion. Compare that numbing exercise with the auto show model: all the car manufacturers from A (Acura) to V (Volvo) are in one place. If there is one minor caution, it’s that some manufacturers display their wares at only some of the shows. A quick online search can confirm if the brands you’re interested in will be in attendance.
Sales pressure is practically non-existent
Once you stroll into a new car dealership, you will likely be “assigned” to a salesperson, who can assist you with product questions, show you in-stock inventory, and so on. But let’s not kid ourselves: that salesperson is there to sell you a vehicle, and depending on that store’s philosophy, there may be some pressure applied on you to make a purchase decision sooner rather than later. (Let’s also acknowledge that the salesperson is doing her/his job by inviting you to buy the car.)
At a car show, most displays are staffed either by factory representatives or by spokespeople who are hired and trained by 3rd party vendors. Yes, there are dealerships who also send salespeople to work the shows, but from our experience, the dealer usually needs those same salespeople to stay back home to attend to showroom traffic. Should you encounter a salesperson, you simply won’t get the same kind of hard-sell tactics. Why? Because the salesperson isn’t selling from any available inventory. S/he is a bit of a fish out of water. You may be asked to provide your name and contact info, and you’re within your rights to politely decline. Rest assured that you can walk the entire convention center without worry of undue pressure to take out your wallet.
Factory reps may be on-site to answer questions
As we mentioned above, there are vehicle manufacturers who populate their show displays with factory reps. As someone who was previously employed as such a rep and who did work the auto shows, I can provide first-hand assurance that your typical factory rep is chock-full of product knowledge, some of it of the kind that’s not in print anywhere. In many cases, I was trained by the very engineers who designed and built the vehicles. If you can find such a rep when you’re touring your favorite brand, it’s worth lingering a few extra minutes to pick her/his brain for as long as s/he can stand it.
New car brochures and literature are there for the taking
Can’t find just the right person to answer your questions? Is the floor inundated with show-goers who won’t let you get near a product specialist? Overwhelmed with the amount of information you’ve been given with no way to write it down? Look for new car sales brochures, free for the asking, which should be in plentiful supply. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Ask. In some cases, you may be asked to provide your name and address so that the manufacturer can mail you the requested print material. Again, you can politely decline, but if you’re a serious shopper, it’s in your best interest to provide it. Besides, some car makers take advantage of such lists to also mail you special offers. Watch your mailbox!
Unreleased future product is on display
In addition to all the new cars and trucks, many manufacturers use the large-scale venue of an auto show to unveil concept cars or thinly-disguised future products, in order to gauge the public’s perception. If you don’t follow the market, this kind of exposure can introduce you to vehicles that you may not have known about. If you’re really lucky, you may see a vehicle about to be introduced to the public within the next few months that greatly interests you. Take advantage of such displays of unreleased products. Who knows, you might find the car of your dreams when you were least looking for it!
Don’t think of attending an auto show as a chore. Whether you are weeks, months, or even years away from your next automotive purchase decision, it never hurts to continually educate yourself about the market, the business, and the choices. As we’ve outlined, a visit to an auto show has many of the advantages of stops at multiple car dealers, without many of the disadvantages. Most of all, try to have fun! It should be an enjoyable experience to investigate your next new ride.