The automotive industry fuels the careers of the over 36,000 Albertans employed by dealers, mechanics, retailers and aftermarket servicers; injects more than $4 billion annually into the provincial economy; and pumps in excess of $654 million in taxes per year to the provincial treasury.
One of the pinnacle events for the industry each year is the Calgary International Auto and Truck show, coming to the BMO Centre at Stampede Park from March 15-19, 2017. Presented by the Calgary Motor Dealers Association, a non-profit organization comprised of 78 franchised car dealerships in the city, the show touches all corners of Calgary’s automotive industry. It’s one of the few shows that combines major manufacturers, accessory exhibitors and heavy trucks all under one roof. With an unbelievable 5.75 acres of space displaying 300 vehicles from 30 manufacturers, alongside accessories, digital walls and interactive displays, it’s a huge draw each year for consumers wanting to check out the latest and greatest in the automotive world.
Jim Gillespie, executive manager of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association, works tirelessly year-round to put on a great show. He organizes the entire show with only one full-time staff member and is expecting that in this, its 37th year, the show will attract over 80,000 car enthusiasts and people who are thinking of purchasing a new vehicle.
“The auto show is really the start to our spring selling season,” says Gillespie. “Our dealers anticipate an increase in business following the show, and they normally have show specials that reflect the anticipated increase in business.”
Again this year, the show kicks off with Vehicles and Violins, a gala fundraiser event Tuesday evening, March 14, which this year supports the Mustard Seed and the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre. The gala provides an exclusive opportunity to preview the show while enjoying international cuisine and listening to live musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Many local businesses have donated live and silent auction items and like the vehicles that provide the backdrop for the event, bidding can get fast and furious. Since the gala began in 2000, $3.7 million has been raised for local charities.
Further honouring its tradition of being a great community partner, the show is partnering with the Calgary Flames to offer great deals on admission as well as eligibility for prizes. Ticket holders to the Wednesday or Friday Flames game during the week of the auto show will pay only $5 at the door for admission to the show and anyone who wears a Flames jersey throughout the show can enter to win great prizes. To encourage more women to come check out the show, the first 750 ladies in attendance on the evening of Thursday, March 16 will receive a special gift.
If luxury is what you’re into, the show won’t disappoint, with Bentley, Rolls-Royce, McLaren and Maserati all in attendance. Highlights include the Bentley Bentayga, Infiniti F1, Audi R8 Spyder, Audi Q5, and the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery. And perhaps the most exciting car at this year’s show is the Ferrari F12tdf. A homage to the historic Tour de France Automobile, fewer than 800 of these vehicles are in existence. One glimpse of this exclusive masterpiece will have attendees immediately imagining themselves in the driver’s seat, navigating its namesake’s hills and corners after reaching 0-100 in an incredible 2.9 seconds.
On the other end of the spectrum, it wouldn’t be Alberta without a full array of trucks on display. One of the most anticipated is Ford’s 2018 F-150, newly styled inside and out with safety and entertainment options such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist including pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, Bang & Olufsen audio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Under the hood, the new power-train lineup has been engineered with greater fuel efficiency and power and notably, a much-anticipated diesel option is finally available.
After checking out the pickups, attendees can keep on truckin’ over to the Heavy Truck display which will feature Smokin’ Gun, a 1968 Canadian Kenworth W-923. Owned by Smokin’ Gord Cooper, who holds the world record for hotrod semi trucks, it’s the fastest nitrous-injected diesel pro rig in Canada and can reach 120 mph.
Also not to miss is the chance to get a glimpse of the future. Concept cars such as the Subaru Viziv-7, the Toyota Mirai and the Acura Precision will also be on display foreshadowing the future direction of the automobile industry. The Toyota Mirai, for instance, is one of the first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In place of a traditional gasoline-powered engine, its fuel cell stack combines compressed hydrogen with oxygen from the surrounding ambient air to produce electricity to power the vehicle with water vapour being the only emission.
Each year consumers and industry players alike look forward to the chance to check out and show off the latest and greatest in the automotive world and like the concept cars of the future, this year’s show promises to be better than ever before.