Orlando was the place to be
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, you could hear the buzzing in Cobo Center. Everyone was excited about the new products and the prospects for North America this year.
During the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando this month, there was the same buzzing. Last year was a good one, and January seems like it set records. Everyone was upbeat and looking forward, with some caution, to the rest of the year. It didn't matter whether you were at an NADA function or an American International Automobile Dealers Association event. The mood was upbeat.
It was a pleasant change from the past few years.
There was concern about Europe and whether the economy there will affect import automobile plans going forward, but the consensus was that North America is so strong, no one is going to do anything to slow it down.
There was more action on the exhibition floor. Dealers were looking to buy something, and there seemed to be exhibitors in Orlando with everything that any retailer might need, from hardware to systems, including lots of new technology and plenty of ways to take care of the customer.
The customer is still king, and with today's technology the customer is well educated about the car business. But there also are new ways dealers can communicate with customers using new technology. It is definitely a new day for the dealer and the customer.
It's fun to see new faces at the top of NADA. With a new chairman and a new president, there likely will be plenty of changes -- subtle and not so subtle. NADA will be changing with the times just like the rest of the business.
There were many parties and other social events during NADA, but there also was a lot of business that got done. The Detroit auto show and NADA were a couple of great events that make the North American auto industry the place you want to be doing business.
In a couple of weeks we will head to Geneva for the annual auto show. The mood there probably will be sober. In spite of lots of new European models, there is a tough economic environment all over Europe.
It will be quite a contrast.
You can reach Keith Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.