Washington, DC Auto Show: Opening Exceeds Expectations

Even while the challenges mounted, the producers of the 2022 Washington, DC Auto Show forged ahead. Several manufacturers backed out, citing lack of available inventory. The Christmastime surge of the Omicron variant loomed threateningly, and then DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District would be verifying vaccinations for show attendees in addition to the mask mandate that was already in place. “With all the headwinds we were facing, we honestly didn’t know if anyone was going to come out,” said WANADA President & CEO John O’Donnell. “Thankfully,” he continued, “people did.”

While opening weekend attendance was not on pace with previous “non-pandemic” auto shows, the crowds were surprisingly strong, particularly on Saturday. “You can’t tell me auto shows don’t work,” O’Donnell said, surveying the crowd. “People have to present proof of vaccination & photo ID, we increased the ticket price, there are fewer manufacturers exhibiting, masks are required, Metro is on a limited schedule, and yet they’re still willing to pay $15 to look at cars they are interested in buying.”

When the doors were opened on Friday, Jan. 21 at noon, a line of people stood waiting, excited to come see the latest models. “I love the auto show, we come every year!” one customer exclaimed.

In the lower hall, DC Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development John Falcicchio was on hand with Greg O’Dell, CEO of Events DC, and members of the local media to declare the show open and review some of the highlights. “The Auto Show is something there we’re really excited to have back,” Falcicchio said. “We missed it last year because of the mitigation efforts that were in effect, but we’re back this year.” As the largest annual indoor event in DC, city officials hope that the arrival of the auto show will prove to be the bellwether for a better year in the nation’s capital.

In addition to the DC Deputy Mayor and sizable Saturday crowds, the auto show’s opening weekend also featured a presentation from Hyundai’s “Hope on Wheels” foundation. While show guests are usually treated to a “hands-on” contest that has been sponsored by Hyundai for many years and was changed into a charitable competition between Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and Children’s National Hospital in 2020, the contest portion was not held this year. This helped to ensure the safety of contestants and keep much needed hospital personnel available to fight the pandemic. The Washington Area Hyundai Dealers, however, continued the $100,000 in financial support to Georgetown Lombardi and Children’s National.

On Saturday, January 22nd, at 2 p.m., in the Hyundai display, The Washington Area Hyundai Dealers presented each hospital with a $50,000 check to support their most critical needs during the pandemic. Former Auto Show Chairman and President of Alexandria Hyundai Kevin Reilly was on hand to present the checks on behalf of Hyundai. “Hyundai has a long history of supporting the fight against pediatric cancer and the Hyundai Hands on Hope Contest contributes to that fight, benefiting two innovators in this field, Georgetown Lombardi and Children’s National,” Reilly said. “The Washington Area Hyundai dealers are proud to support their great work with $100,000 total in grants, especially during such challenging times.”

The final highlight of the show’s opening weekend was the annual VIP Exotic Car & Luxury Lifestyle Reception, sponsored by Jet It and The Keats Group at RBC Wealth Management. Several area exotic dealers and Competizione & Sports Cars contributed nearly 30 exotic vehicles for the show’s lower level. In return, they invited a number of their top clients to view the show in a private setting. Guests included Redskin great Fred Smoot and Cedric Davy, Chief Operating Officer of Bugatti of the Americas, pictured here with a $3.8M Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport.

Finally, this is the last chance to sign up for the  WANADA Member Reception, sponsored by Merrill Lynch The Kirvan Group and BG Crovato Products & Services.  The WANADA Member Reception at the 2022 Washington, DC Auto Show is scheduled for Thursday, January 27th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.  Registration for the member reception is currently open here and the cost is $50 per person.

For more information on the show, visit www.washingtonautoshow.com.

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