As President of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA), I have the privilege of attending some of the world's premier auto shows in North America and Europe.
I'm sometimes asked why I attend so many shows and what I hope to gain from them. The obvious answer is that I love this industry; it's been my passion and career since I was a teenager and I continue to be fascinated with new products and developments.
Each year, automakers introduce passenger and commercial vehicles that demonstrate improvements on previous models. The more informed I can be about the vehicles, suppliers, technologies, etc., the more value I bring to my dealerships, our customers and the TADA.
I also sit on the Board of Directors of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) and all Board members are eager to visit other shows for new ideas in an effort to continually improve the visitor experience at our world-class auto show in February.
I'm super impressed with the Paris and Frankfurt shows, which alternate as hosting cities every other year. Each show encompasses multiple buildings and venues. Some buildings are dedicated to a single manufacturer, and several days are dedicated exclusively to industry players and the press.
By means of comparison, the CIAS utilizes only two or three venues and manages to produce an outstanding auto show year after year. It's unfortunate that Toronto doesn't have a larger venue in which to host the CIAS and other industry events - but our show’s presentation still rivals even the world’s biggest.
In October 2014, Paris was the host city and I spent a few days soaking up the displays, exhibits and atmosphere with a sense of awe. There is always great spectacle at major shows: in Paris, a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport floated on a barge in the river Seine before the admiring eyes of journalists and spectators.
The Paris auto show (Paris Mondial De L'Automobile), featured many automotive brands that aren't as popular or present in North America, such Renault, Citroën and Peugeot. The show also showcased an impressive array of auto accessories available as add-ons, such as on-board cameras, and portable GPS systems.
German-based ZF Friedrichshafen AG had an incredible display - the company manufactures transmissions for passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and construction machinery. I have a strong interest in transmissions and I spent time perusing the ZF display.
Formula One (F1) auto racing is hugely popular in Europe and that popularity is amply borne out at the Paris and Frankfurt shows. Automakers that sponsor F1 teams proudly display their race car technologies and promote their involvement in the sport.
Diesel powered vehicles are more common in Europe than in North America, despite the clear advantages of diesel over conventional gas-powered engines. Diesel vehicles represent only about three per cent of the North American market, whereas is Europe they account for 55 per cent (European Environment Agency Study, 2012).
Another observation I made was the high level of CO2 emissions of European vehicles, compared to North American vehicles (emissions laws are less stringent in Europe than in North America). Despite this fact, there seems to be more public awareness in Europe about CO emissions, as evidenced by the fact that CO emissions are posted on passenger vehicles for all to see!
Being on the board of the CIAS - and visiting other auto shows - has given me a greater appreciation for what it takes to produce a world-class auto show. Next February's show will match our International rivals in technology, presentation and products on display, and will do so in a way that blends the lifestyle of our consumers. It will be a show not seen elsewhere on the world’s stage - so stay tuned!