Firing on all cylinders, the 2024 Canadian International AutoShow sets attendance record!

If there was any doubt about the relevancy of auto shows in the post-pandemic era, the 2024 Canadian International AutoShow laid those doubts to rest.

In its second year back after the pandemic, the 2024 AutoShow set an all-time attendance record over its 10-day run at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. With consistently strong attendance — including four days of single-day attendance records — the 2024 AutoShow was visited by 371,559 guests, the highest number in the 51-year history of the event. The AutoShow continues to be Canada’s largest consumer show in terms of size and attendance.

“The 2024 AutoShow confirmed the resiliency and health of our industry and the strong consumer desire to see and experience the latest automobiles and learn about the latest automotive trends,” says Todd Bourgon, Executive Director of the Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario (MVRO). “Manufacturers, car retailers, sponsors and media partners should be extremely proud of their involvement. This year’s AutoShow is a glowing testament to how automobiles still generate incredible passion and excitement for consumers.”

The 2024 AutoShow hosted 44 automotive brands — a significant increase from the 28 brands represented at the first post-pandemic show in 2023. The Show also featured 31 new vehicle debuts, its most diverse and unique collection of luxury and exotic vehicles and compelling attractions that complemented the new cars, trucks and SUVs showcased by the manufacturers. The Show also saw the return of Ford, Lincoln and Porsche.

“With so many new brands adding to the roster of presenting manufacturers this year, an expanded indoor and outdoor test drive program and a diverse and well-presented series of features, our consumers came out in force,” says Jason Campbell, General Manager of the AutoShow. “We had positive word-of-mouth, media coverage and social media activity from early attendees, and that helped propel us to a strong finish and a new attendance record.”

The 2024 event expanded back to its original full building format, which helped spread the audience and help ensure a more positive consumer experience — with more to see when they arrived — despite the big attendance.

The marketing arm of the 2024 AutoShow began in earnest in November, 2023, and it gained momentum up to – and during – the Show. “We initiated a very strategic marketing campaign, which generated tremendous excitement before and during the Show,” says David McClean, Director of Marketing Services, CIAS. “We employed a combination of paid advertising, social media and digital marketing, which we were able to fine-tune on a daily basis. This proved to be a perfect trifecta of messaging that resonated with consumers. Of the 29 years that I’ve been involved with the AutoShow, this year was by far the highest in terms of overall buzz, passion and energy from industry players, sponsors, partners and, of course, consumers.”

This year was also a banner year for the number of government officials attending the Auto Show. “The AutoShow is the place to be for industry and government to collaborate and celebrate the auto industry,” says Frank Notte, Director of Government Relations for the MVRO. “We are incredibly honoured that Premier Doug Ford attended. This year marked Premier Ford’s third time attending the AutoShow – the most of any Premier in history.”

At the Show, Premier Ford met with the MVRO Executive and brought remarks at the Opening Ceremony. The Premier was joined at the Opening Ceremony by Neal Lumsden, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport who also brought remarks. Opening Ceremony remarks were also given from federal officials Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Industry, and Francesco Sorbara, MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge and Chair of the Government’s Auto Caucus.

“I am humbled by the support and willingness of representatives from our trading partners to tour the AutoShow,” says Notte. “Newly-appointed American Consul General in Toronto, Baxter Hunt, upheld a long tradition of that office by visiting the American made vehicles on display. This year was also special as the British Consul General in Toronto, and the Croatian Ambassador to Canada and his Mississauga Consul General attended the AutoShow for the very first time. I am confident the momentum will continue as the world sees Canada, and the Canadian International Auto Show, as the place to be for all things automotive.”

One of the big takeaways from the 2024 annual CADA Summit, which coincided with the opening of the AutoShow, was the results of a survey by Clarify Group, an automotive consultancy firm.  “The Clarify survey confirmed that consumers make important car buying decisions after visiting the AutoShow,” says Tim Reuss, President & CEO, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association. “This confirmation from a third-party source is vital to car retailers and manufacturers, and it’s a ringing endorsement of how important and relevant the AutoShow is to consumers in the car-buying process.”

Organizers are already looking ahead to the 2025 Canadian International AutoShow, which will take place February 14th to 23rd, 2025, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “We are looking forward to the challenge of creating an even bigger and better show for 2025,” says Campbell.

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