2017 Washington Auto Show: New features add to success

2017 Washington Auto Show: New features add to success

The roll out of an expanded MobilityTalks Conference. A fully operational delivery robot on display for the press and policymakers. An impressive array of alternative fuel vehicles exhibited. An expanded ART-of-Motion display. A new direction for the Media Day keynote speaker. With all this to offer, Industry/Media Days for the 2017 Washington Auto Show (WAS) looked to the future of mobility and set course on ten consumer days that drew in crowds at an impressive rate. And, unlike last year, there was no snow flying, let alone a blizzard to shut the region down.

–Each year the Washington Auto Show faces an enormous challenge and opportunity to present both a platform to discuss public policy and a world-class consumer show,” said Geoff Pohanka, chairman of the Washington Auto Show. –Im proud to say that we superseded our past yearsê performance with MobilityTalks International and also delivered the exhibits and products to the delight of our consumer base.”

The expanded MobilityTalks International Conference before the Auto Show opened to the public was a big success. (Click here for detailed coverage from the first WAS Bulletin covering Industry/Media Days.) Starship Technologiesê demonstration of its personal delivery robot during MobilityTalks and again on Media Day was a revealing and very popular look into the future. And not that far into the future, with the delivery robot scheduled to be seen on the sidewalks of Washington as soon as late February.

Because the WAS is known on the global industry circuit as the Public Policy Show, the manufacturers each year bring their latest Alternative Fuel Vehicles. A segment of showgoers always wants to focus on AFVs, while most are content to seek out the latest SUVs and CUVs.

The Automotive Rhythmsê ART-of-Motion artists who were painting cars moved to an expanded space in the Convention Center ballroom on the third floor, the first time the Auto Show has occupied this space. The artists drew big crowds, as four painters at a time worked on the designs, transforming regular motor vehicles into objects of art.

WAS Media Day historically has opened with an industry keynote speaker who often sets the tone for the Auto Show with his remarks. In the past, the speaker has always been an automaker CEO, such as Cadillac Global President Johan de Nysschen (2015) and American Honda EVP John Mendel (2016). But this year, in keeping with the future of mobility theme of the Show, the industry keynote speech was given by Dinesh Paliwal, chairman of HARMAN, International, the connected car leaders. Having recently been acquired by Samsung, HARMAN provides connected product to technology for nearly every automaker.

Washington Auto Show communications manager Barbara Pomerance said that Show organizers intend to line up speakers from the engineering and high technology sectors going forward to give the keynote address. –Because the industry is changing so much, our keynote reflected that,” she said. –It attracted a new audience in the automation, mobility and technology sectors, and that was ideal for us.”

As reported in the first issue of the WANADA Bulletin on the Auto Show, several members of Congress visited the Washington Auto Show. House Minority Whip and local congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) came by, as did former franchised dealer, turned congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA), head of the House Auto Caucus. Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Bob Latta (R-OH) also toured, as did a team of U.S. Energy Department regulators who attended on WAS Media Day.

Press coverage was widespread. The IMPA (International Motor Press Association) train came down from New York on a special chartered Amtrak car, the evening before WAS Media Day to attend a special automotive media dinner with their counter parts in the Washington Automotive Press Association. Several major publications were represented, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports and PC Magazine. Emerald Planet, a local cable TV network, did a live broadcast with WANADA Board member Charlie Stringfellow on January 29. The state-of-the-art Auto Show Media Center was sponsored this year by SMDI, the Steel Market Development Institute.

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