WASHINGTON -- Dealers in and near the nation's capital want to elevate their local auto show into the top tier of vehicle expositions.
So they are changing the dates of the Washington show from the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to late January. The move will take effect with the 2006 show, scheduled for Jan. 23-29 of that year.
"It means more cars, more manufacturers, more new-model introductions and concept cars," says Gerard Murphy, president of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.
The Washington show also has a new setting. A 2.3 million-square-foot convention center opened last year, just blocks from the Capitol and White House.
The date change also will permit greater contact between industry executives and government officials, the association says. The show will include special events to encourage participation by lawmakers, administration officials and the diplomatic community, the dealer group says.
Normally, official Washington is effectively shut down during the show.
The Washington show has succeeded in attracting area consumers. But because it is held just a week before the Los Angeles auto show and two weeks before the Detroit auto show, it has gotten few new-model debuts and has generated little media attention outside the region.
Despite the changes, the Washington show faces challenges. Automakers still will concentrate product unveilings in Detroit. Their executives will continue to commit themselves to attending the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in late January or early February.
Manufacturers still will need to prepare for the big Chicago auto show in February. And shows in other major markets, such as Philadelphia, in late January and early February, have taken steps to raise their profiles.
Sponsors of the Los Angeles show plan to move their annual exhibition to November from its traditional time in early January to escape the calendar squeeze. That change takes effect in November 2006.