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Auto show goes on, but without frills

Posted February 5, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Auto manufacturers' economic troubles and slipping sales stripped a lot of the flash off the annual North Carolina International Auto Show, under way in Raleigh until Sunday.

At first glance, there was plenty to see from high-end to hybrid cars, big and small, on the floor of the new convention center in downtown.

"I like to look at all the different cars, different styles, what's come out new," show attendee Tiywanna Jones said.

Missing were many of the shiny frills – such as carpeting or spinning pedestals – that dealers have used to sell their vehicles in the past.

Economic woes nearly kept some dealers from auto show Slipping sales kept some dealers from auto show

Show manager Jim Lavery said that many dealerships didn't have money to spend this year, so he invited them to set up their displays for free if they helped with promotion.

"(We) went and found our dealers that were interested in being in the new convention center, and ... it's full," Lavery said.

Noticeably missing among the displays were models from two of the Big Three, America's struggling automakers.

"We came here and looking around and no General Motors and no Ford," attendee Walter Ehrhardt said. "With the buyout, I guess they can't afford to be here."

One member of the Big Three, Chrysler-Jeep, had displays, but representatives said they were not allowed to talk to the media.

Many of those looking at the cars said they were there simply for the thrills, getting close or even behind the wheel of the cars they dream about.

Ehrhardt, though, said he was there for some serious comparative shopping, "basically, to see how far I can go with my dollar."

Dealers said that's what they were banking on the show delivering.

"We're advertising; we're here at the show," John Hall, a Toyota dealer, said.


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  • 1Packfan Feb 6, 2009

    only reason i plan on attending is to check out the classic cars. I'm looking to get something new later in theyear, so I may pick up some literature, but surprised no ford/gm. Was hoping to check out the Shelby Mustangs, new Camaros and of course - the Vettes!

  • bdc2020 Feb 6, 2009

    What a cluster! I hear it was at the fairgrounds and I thought that was STUPID with a new convention center we have. Then I read this and got totally confused as I hadn't heard about this. Then I read NO GM/FORD..what idiot dreamed this schedule up! I'm just going to skip both as the fairgrounds one is garbage (sure was last year). If you have ever been to a big city show, you'll realize how poor this one is and how lacking in models it is.

  • harleysmom04 Feb 6, 2009

    The one at the Fairgrounds is the usual show. Not sure where the one at the convention came from. CSSB is correct that it's a manufacturer's show and usually a great event to attend.

  • CSSBB Feb 5, 2009

    Usually a show is sponsored or funded by the manufacturers, thus the frills and carpeting since they carry those city to city. Dealers could not fund something for use once a year. Looks like this one is not manufacturer sponsored where the one at the fair grounds next week is? Wonder if John Q Public knows there is another one NEXT week? Have been many commercials about the two shows but the names are similar, if you are not paying close attention you might not realize.

  • jeffdewitt Feb 5, 2009

    Why one Earth are we having TWO auto shows a week apart? There is this one at the convention center and then next weekend there is another one at the fairgrounds!

    Ford and GM will be at the show at the Fairgrounds.

    This is just strange, I bet there is an interesting story behind it.