I have no idea exactly how many auto shows there are in the world, but I know there are plenty.
Whether big international shows such as Frankfurt or Beijing or regional shows, it's obvious that manufacturers, dealers and — most important — customers love them.
We have seen more dealers group together in auto malls, but nothing comes close to an auto show for letting shoppers examine competing vehicles side by side. They can sit in the cars, climb through them and look them over in detail — do everything short of drive them.
For a customer, there is nothing like having various brands' vehicles displayed next to each other.
For decades, factories and dealers have found this to be an effective way to introduce their vehicles and prepare potential customers to visit a showroom.
Customers have always loved auto shows, and millions attend every year. It never seemed to matter how fancy the displays were. Customers just wanted to see the cars.
Still, marketers kept trying to outdo their competitors with bigger and fancier displays that had little or nothing to do with the cars.
Those responsible for installing the exhibits saw this as a golden opportunity to charge the factories more until in some places the costs simply became prohibitive.
It is time to take a cold look at auto shows and perhaps decide to get back to the basics. Potential customers — after all, that is who the shows are for — would be just as happy without the multimillion-dollar extravaganzas.
Folks just want the opportunity to get in and out of vehicles. They want to have a chance to compare.
When it comes to auto shows, it is time for automakers to figure out how to appeal to potential buyers.
You may email Keith Crain at [email protected].