New York — Candida Romanelli will leave economic discussions to others.
“We're not here to talk about the micro and macro economies of the world,” Romanelli, the director of the New York International Auto Show, says during a press preview of the event. “We're here to unveil 33 vehicles.”
Moreover, the show is intended to stimulate regional car sales, despite current economic conditions that have shaken consumer confidence and hurt the auto industry.
“We hope we can kick start new-car sales and come back stronger in 2010,” says Romanelli. “If we can remove the economic cloud, we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to offer the consumer.”
An estimated 1 million New Yorkers are expected to attend the show during a 10-day run at the Javits Center.
In previous exit surveys, 86% of respondents said the event influenced their vehicle lease or purchase decision.
“We know the majority of visitors come to make car-buying decisions and that auto shows are the only place they can really compare and research every new vehicle on their own without interruption or pressure to buy,” Romanelli says.
The New York show this year is emphasizing vehicle innovation, safety and quality “which is at an all-time high,” says Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Assn. “We're here to showcase what the industry has to offer.
“Consumers need to know, as the spring selling season begins, that this is a bold, innovative industry,” he adds. “There's never been a better time to buy a new car. This is what the show is all about.”
Some critics question the viability of auto shows in an age when consumers can get so much product information online. But the Internet has limitations, says Brian Carolin, senior vice president-marketing for Nissan North America Inc.
“There's no more an emotional purchase than that of a motor car, and you can't touch, feel and smell a car on the Internet,” he tells Ward's. “You can at an auto show. It's a great way to showcase vehicles.”
Nevertheless, many auto makers are stepping back from erecting elaborate and costly displays, Carolin says. “The public wants to see the cars, not necessarily the fluff that was part of a lot of auto companies' stands.”
Nissan's presence at the show is notable, because the auto maker, citing budget constraints in a bad economic year, skipped the Detroit and Chicago exhibitions earlier this year.
“We picked New York as one of the auto shows to stay at this year, because we do well in this market and our New York dealers have higher than average sales,” Carolin says.
Skipping Detroit and Chicago was “a short-term decision,” he says. “I think you'll see us back.”