WASHINGTON -- Organizers of the Washington Auto Show say they are on track to make their event a top global exposition.
They still face major hurdles, though.
A new convention center and a change of dates to January are good steps, observers agree.
But the key to success is persuading automakers to bring products and concept vehicles to the capital, they say.
"If there would be more media there, then we would introduce more product there," says General Motors spokesman Terry Rhadigan. "We have to go to venues with the maximum reach."
Martha Voss, a spokeswoman for Toyota Motor North America Inc., says she knows of no plans for her company to make a major introduction in Washington in January.
Ford Motor Co. spokesman Mike Moran says, "It will still be hard to hold any global introductions out of the Detroit auto show."
The Washington show has been the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. That schedule was fine for local consumers but deterred industry and government involvement.
The next show will be Jan. 23-29, when Congress will be in session. Organizers are planning events designed to get industry executives and government officials together.
The Washington show opens the day after the close of the Detroit auto show.
Automakers will be hard pressed even to get newly unveiled vehicles from Detroit to Washington, an industry official says.
Car companies also will continue to schedule some introductions at major shows in Chicago in February, New York in April and Los Angeles in November.
The Los Angeles show is moving from January to avoid a calendar crunch.
Automakers also unveil globally important vehicles at shows in Tokyo, Frankfurt and Paris.
Dennis Fitzgibbons, director of public policy for the Washington office of DaimlerChrysler AG, says Washington will have a better show, but it never will be significant for product introductions.
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