Aside from the rows and rows of shiny bright colours, dazzling designs and unique, exciting, innovative features, the annual Calgary International Auto and Truck Show (Wednesday, March 11 – Sunday, March 15 at the BMO Centre) is a fascinating barometer of consumer trends, likes and dislikes.
“Calgary is the first western show in the circuit and it is very important to most manufacturers,” says the hectically busy Jim Gillespie, executive manager of the Calgary Motor Dealers Association (CMDA) and the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show.
Although it has been subtle, North American trends continue to show that conventional two- and four-door sedans continue to be replaced by the resounding popularity of trucks and SUVs. Automotive experts agree: in terms of trends, supply, demand and sales, the consumer shift to SUVs and pickup trucks continues hotter than ever. Throughout North America (with some exceptions), new car customers are flocking to taller vehicles with features that conventional sedans and mid-size cars simply cannot offer.
According to LMC Automotive, North America’s respected automotive forecaster, for the past 10 years “the big three” are focused on the SUV and truck momentum. The projections show that more than 80 per cent of GM sales will be some kind of truck or SUV, Ford’s ratio will hit 90 per cent and Fiat Chrysler’s ratio will near 97 per cent.
“The SUV market is definitely dominating,” Gillespie says “No doubt about it – the SUV market is showing terrific momentum and growth but, specifically in the Calgary market, trucks are still outselling all categories.”
After more than 11 months of discussions, planning and negotiations, the gung-ho Gillespie, his board and his staff are ready to dazzle the Calgary area with over 27 manufacturers and 35 aftermarket companies. Encompassing 250,000 square feet of vehicle and accessory displays, this year’s exhibits will showcase the latest vehicles, designs, comfort touches and technologies in the sprawling BMO Centre.
With the warp speed of innovative technology innovations, there’s something new and updated every year. Like the latest in electric vehicles (EV); in-car Wi-Fi with bigger-and-better built-in antennas for stronger and more consistent signals; state-of-the-art crash avoidance features (such as forward collision warning, autobrake, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention); adaptive headlights; blind-spot detection; and more.
“There’s always so much exciting and new,” he says. “Relevant for the near future of Calgary’s very hot truck market that, by next year or 2022, there will be electric trucks as well as self-driving trucks.”
Since electric vehicles are such a booming automotive trend and constantly in the news, Gillespie is delighted that EVs will also be a big draw at this year’s auto and truck show. “In addition to the show’s static display of electric and hybrid vehicles, for the first time consumers will be able to actually participate in an EV Test Drive experience where drivers can get behind the wheel of multiple EVs and find the one that best fits their lifestyle. To make sure the EV Test Drive event runs smoothly, pre-registration is necessary on www.autoshowcalgary.com.”
Aside from the intense planning focus for the big March 11-15 Calgary International Auto and Truck Show, Gillespie also touches on a whimsical and nostalgic fun side. “We also have about 12 very cool cars confirmed for the Show’s Collector Car Haven, including a ’37 Cadillac, a ’54 Corvette, a 21-window ’63 VW Transporter Van, a ’96 Camaro, a ’65 Mustang convertible and more.”
Not only chock full of dazzling displays and exhibits, the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show is also a dynamic community booster. Each year, the CMDA, through its charitable foundation, donates 85 per cent of show proceeds to benefit the Calgary community. The annual Vehicles and Violins gala has helped raise over $4 million for Calgary charities. “The 2020 Vehicles and Violins event, the premiere night before opening day, will be our 21st gala,” Gillespie says with enthusiasm. “It will be 21 years of giving, happening on Tuesday, March 10.
“Attendees will be treated to an exclusive preview of the 2020 auto show, accompanied by live entertainment from the Calgary Philharmonic, international cuisine and complimentary drink tickets. During the event, there will be various auctions and raffles raising money to benefit Discovery House, Calgary’s social profit organization providing a continuum of care to women and their children fleeing domestic violence.”
Tickets are still only $150 with no GST and half the ticket cost can be used as a tax receipt. Tickets and information can be found at www.autoshowcalgary.com.
Although the detailed 2020 Calgary International Auto and Truck Show layout map will show the specifics, some of this year’s ‘stars of the show’ will be:
Volvo – XC40, XC60 and Polestar PHEV
Chevy – Bolt
Acura – NSX
Subaru – Outback and Legacy
Jaguar – I-Pace and F-Pace
Chrysler – Pacifica Hybrid
Dodge – Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
Jeep – Wrangler EcoDiesel and Gladiator
Mazda – 3
Honda – Civic
Mitsubishi – Outlander PHEV GT
Nissan – Leaf, (all new) Sentra and Tundra
Toyota – Prius Prime and Supra
Hyundai – Kona EV
VW – Atlas Cross Sport, Tiguan, Arteon, GTI, GLI, e-Golf
Ford – F150, F450, F350, Ranger, Escape, Explorer and Explorer Hybrid, GT500, Edge, EcoSport, Expedition
Lincoln – Corsair, Aviator, Nautilus, Navigator, MKZ, Continental