Autoshow outlook for 2010

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Denis Dessureault is a very happy guy. The director of the Montreal International Autoshow said this year’s show will have none of the no-shows that plague others.

“There will be a full house again. We know we are lucky,” Dessureault said. “But the manufacturers see the show as important because the Montreal market is important.”

Yes, Chrysler Canada and GM Canada have trimmed their displays, but the slack has been taken up by other automakers, he said.

While the Montreal market may be alluring, it wasn’t enough to shield the show from the demands of cost-conscious exhibitors. Show management had to ask the management of the Palais des Congrès, the show’s venue, for help.

“We reopened the lease and they reduced the rent and we transferred that reduction to the manufacturers,” he admits. “It wasn’t as much as they were asking, but we did what we could to help them.”

When Canadian AutoWorld spoke to Dessureault in late October, he said there were no other austerity measures on the horizon. The OEMs would still be staffing the displays and transporting vehicles to the venue. Dealers would not have to step in; the public would see no evidence of anything that would diminish their enjoyment.

“Everything looks like business as usual. So far so good.”

But don’t let the Montreal experience fool you, all is not rosy.

Bob Vilas would like to be in Dessureault’s shoes. The manager of Edmonton’s auto show has some good news and some bad: the facility where the show is held, the Agricom, has been expanded to about one-half million square feet and dubbed the Edmonton Convention Centre.

Doubling the exhibition space has been part of the show’s three-year plan, he says. But the recession wasn’t. Now, there’s too much space and not enough exhibitors.

“We adjusted our expansion plans in consequence,” Vilas said. “We have a pretty good aftermarket section that we’ve worked on. It’s not as good as we would have liked to have for the opening of the new facility… but we have some exciting new exhibits in this area.”

- For more on this story, check out the next edition of Canadian AutoWorld -