Washington Auto Show brings new features, brings back old ones

The 2019 Washington Auto Show succeeded on so many fronts, it’s hard to know where to begin. The show saw record TV coverage, far more than last year, and showcased 17 regional reveals.

“The 2019 Washington Auto Show was our finest production ever in terms of the sheer size of the event, and the diverse range of experiential events we had,” said John O’Donnell, the President and CEO of the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association, which produces the show. “And most importantly, we heard from automakers across the show floor that they were more than exceeding their targets for getting leads on new car buyers.” Auto Show Chairman John Ourisman agreed: “Consumers attending this year’s Auto Show could not have been more excited and eager to see the wide array of new vehicles,” he said.

This year’s showgoers had plenty to see over the 10 days of the Auto Show in Washington, which was held from April 5 to 14. A wide variety of models were spread over 750,000 square feet of exhibit space, on three floors of the Washington Convention Center. Crowds were steady and, it being spring, many were thinking seriously about buying a car. After being holed up all winter, consumers were happy to hit the Auto Show floor during the spring selling season.

“Several of the automakers said that members of the public who visited their displays were serious buyers this year,” said show manager Bob Yoffe.

Having the 2019 Washington Auto Show in April instead of January when it typically runs brought some new features. Artist Matt Long of Frederick painted a 2019 Nissan Altima with a special cherry blossom theme for the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

As the Washington Auto Show Nissan Altima was driven through the parade route, showing off its newly painted cherry blossom theme, announcements promoted the Washington Auto Show as being in town through April 14. Long painted the Altima in the ART-of-Motion exhibit at the convention center during the show prior to the parade.

One of the most popular features this year was an expanded test drive section of the Auto Show. For the first time ever, showgoers could partake in a multi-manufacturer experiential event, called the Electric Drive Experience, where they were whipped around a stunt track in an electric vehicle driven by a professional driver. Long lines for that opportunity persisted throughout the show. Other popular indoor experiential events were Camp Jeep and the Jaguar Land Rover Above and Beyond Experience (see next article).

Two longstanding traditions at the Auto Show, Student Day, April 5, and Military Day, April 9, were well received and well attended. Students received discounted admission on Student Day. See below for more information on Military Tribute Day.

The Washington Auto Show will return to its usual winter time slot in 2020, with Public Policy Days being held on Jan. 22 to Jan. 23, and the public show scheduled for Jan. 24 to Feb. 2.

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