Calgary auto show cancels after big OEMs pull out

November 23, 2022

The decision by some major manufacturers to pull out of Western Canadian auto shows next year has led to the cancellation of at least one event, Canadian auto dealer has learned.

The Calgary Automobile Dealers Association (CMDA) indicated this week it made the “difficult” decision to cancel the 2023 Calgary International Auto and Truck Show, scheduled for March 8-12 at BMO Centre at Stampede Park. The show had been cancelled the last two years due to COVID-19, which cut short the 2020 event just after it started.

Jim Gillespie, Executive General Manager of the CMDA, told Canadian auto dealer his dealer members decided last week to cancel the show when many of the major manufacturers such as Ford, Stellantis, Honda and Toyota pulled out. There has already been a growing list of manufacturers that pulled out of auto shows in recent years, choosing instead to use their money to do digital reveals.

“Quite frankly, as soon as Ford and Stellantis pulled out, the vast majority followed suit,” Gillespie said. “I think supply chain issues were a major factor. The dealers don’t have cars. Some of these manufacturers were going to have a very difficult time having cars. I think there’s a few factors in play. It’s just very unfortunate we had to cancel again, but we have to be fair to all our partners and our patrons. It’s not fair to the brands that were going to come and the consumers.”

The Vancouver International Auto Show, which is celebrating its 100th event, is scheduled for March 22-26 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Edmonton Motor Show is scheduled for April 12-16 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.

Gillespie said the cancellation of his event will be a financial blow to the CMDA’s Charitable Foundation, which derives a lot of money from the auto show and its Vehicles & Violins Gala. He said collectively it means a loss of several hundred thousand dollars.

At this point, the Montreal International Auto Show (January 2029), Canadian International AutoShow (February 17-26) and Quebec City International Auto Show (March 7-12) are still scheduled to go ahead.

Don Romano, President of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp., said his company will support all the Canadian shows, though it works with its dealers on the smaller ones without the exorbitant displays of the bigger ones.

“I think it’s been three years of new products and technology and I think this is probably going to be the best year ever for auto shows,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to find out about our products without having to go to a dealership. Nowadays with this new digital world, you don’t just want to go into dealerships. You go online. People would prefer not to go to dealerships until they are ready to buy. This gives them that outlet where they can check the cars out. That’s important.”

Romano said he is surprised some manufacturers have chosen not to support some of the Canadian shows.

“At the same time, it is expensive, and if you look at what’s happening in 2023 with the level of uncertainty regarding the economy, we don’t know how many cars we’re going to get with the chip situation,” said Romano. “I understand where they are coming from, but at the same I compete against some of them, so if they are not going to be there, this is a good opportunity to be out there. And in the age of electrification, we’re number two—there’s Tesla and then there’s Hyundai—so to not be there when everybody’s talking electric, I don’t want to miss the opportunity.”

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