DETROIT — Cold weather. Snow. Less automakers. The struggling economy. Those are just some of the possible reasons for the slight dip in attendance at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, held at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.
This January, a total of 650,517 people attended the show including 629,404 people on public days. Attendance on the final day rose to 92,715 compared with 88,324 on the last day in 2008. Attendance is down by 73,410 on public days when compared to 2008. A record was set in 2003 when 810,699 people attended the auto show.
AmericaJR.com was proud to have seven members of our Web Team on the auto show floor. Jerome Rzucidlo, Gloria Rzucidlo, Vince Dery, Michelle Kotlarsky, Jasmine Boney, Garrett Godwin and I covered the event. Pete Bublitz, Mike Wrathell, Lauren Fant, Cymone Allwood and Jennifer Vuong attended supporting events during the run of the auto show.
I had the chance to interview the Senior Co-Chairman Joe Serra during the second day of press week.
“We’ve had over 50 unveilings of new products to the world,” said Joe Serra, Senior Co-Chairman of the 2009 NAIAS. “The neat thing was, of those 50, over 85 percent were worldwide introductions. It says a lot about Detroit and the North American International Auto Show.”
Electric was definitely the theme of this year’s show. Nearly every automaker showed at least one vehicle that could be powered by electricity. Some of the big reveals at this year’s show include the 2010 Ford Taurus, the Cadillac Converj concept, the Chrysler 200c electric vehicle and the production model of the Chevy Volt. Toyota showed off it’s all-new Prius hybrid, expected to get 50 mpg. The BMW Z4 won many awards during the show.
Many new automakers came to the NAIAS for the first time in 2009. Tesla, Revenge Designs, Bugatti, Lotus, Stile Bertone and Brilliance were among the new additions to the show. However, some automakers decided not to attend this year. Ferrari, Nissan, Infiniti, Suzuki, Land Rover and Porsche did not display in 2009.
“I like the new Ford Mustang,” said Ron from Bonita Springs, Fla. of the auto show. “I’m interested in the electric cars, too. I think they need that. They need to fill that segment cause gas prices could go up anytime. It’s a great show. This is like the top show. There’s a lot here to see.”
The AutoWeek Design Forum was canceled due to the struggling economy. It should return in 2010.
Celebrities that appeared during the auto show include Al Roker, Conan O’Brien, Ross from The Tonight Show, Jeff Daniels, The Doobie Brothers, Tennessee Senator Robert Phillips Corker, Jr. and The Detroit Tigers. The Tigers Winter Caravan made an appearance with players such as Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Marcus Thames, Nate Robertson as well as Head Coach Jim Leyland and members of his staff.
Almost 65,000 people came out to see Auto Racing Day at the NAIAS. NASCAR, IndyCar, LeMans and ARCA drivers appeared for autographs and a question-and-answer session with fans. Drivers that appeared included Kurt Busch, Gil De Ferran, Ben Devlin, Robbie Buhl, Gabi DiCarlo, Robb Brent and Brian Keselowski and Alistair (Ali) Jackson. I had the chance to interview most of the drivers.
“I like all the domestics, primarily to support America,” said David Mileski of Rochester Hills, Mich. “I’m surprised by how many people are crowding into the domestics areas as supposed to some of the foreign. I think word’s getting around.”
AmericaJR.com was proud to be the ONLY website in the world with FREE tickets to the public show days of the auto show. This year, we gave away three pairs of tickets. Our lucky winners were: Shanda Shick from Blanchard, Mich.; Steven Mantas from Lincoln Park, Mich. and Lauren Merkys from Willoughby Hills, Ohio.
I really enjoyed the 2009 NAIAS. It was much better show than the press thought it would be. There was so much to see at the auto show. If you only went for one day, you missed a lot. Our goal was to help you see as much as possible with our coverage of the show. I attended the show four of the five days of press week and on auto racing day.
Bottom line: Now more than ever, Americans needs to start buying cars built by GM, Ford and Chrysler in order to save our jobs. If you buy from a foreign manufacturer, you are costing our country another American job that will be lost. Especially when these Chinese manufacturers start selling in the U.S., it is important to buy American.