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Ford to return to Toronto auto show as some carmakers will skip it again

While some big-name carmakers are taking another pass on Canada’s largest consumer auto show, one major company is returning to be part of an event that will include more than 600 cars and trucks.

Ford and its luxury brand Lincoln will return to join confirmed exhibits from Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Infiniti, Hyundai, Genesis, Kia, Porsche, Subaru, Vinfast, Volvo and Polestar.

Tesla will be there with the new Cybertruck, and Rivian will bring a pair of electric trucks. There’ll also be a full lineup of exotic cars, including Lamborghini, Maserati, Lotus, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Zagato, Hennessy, and the Little Car Co., as well as a display of nine new and classic Ferraris, including the F40, Enzo, Daytona, 250 LM and the 296 GT3 race car driven by Gilles Villeneuve.

But the show will not include vehicles from Honda and Acura, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Jaguar and Land Rover. BMW will exhibit only one model, the $220,000 XM performance SUV, among the exotic vehicles.

Last year, the show, formally called the Canadian International AutoShow, returned after cancelling two shows during the pandemic. While it set daily attendance records and more than 350,000 visitors stopped by, fewer vehicles were on display than before.

Some of that space at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was filled with indoor test tracks. Both an EV test track and Stellantis’s Camp Jeep experience, in which a professional driver chauffeurs participants around a man-made off-road course – will be available to visitors again this year.

The brands not attending believe there are now more effective – and less expensive – ways to market their vehicles.

Honda and Acura “continually look to effectively market our brands to achieve our evolving business goals in Canada,” says spokesman John Bordignon, “while managing activities [like auto shows] that require significant resources and financial commitments. This is ongoing and we will adjust our plans and make future participation announcements that best serve our customers and meet our strategic goals.”

Similarly, “Volkswagen Canada will not be taking part in any conventional auto shows this year. Instead, we will be taking part in select EV shows throughout the country,” spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff said. “As part of our shift to electric mobility, we have decided this would be a better way to allocate our resources for this year.”

Representatives for some of the missing brands say that social media provides them with direct marketing opportunities to interested and qualified customers that never existed before. Some add, privately, that this circumvents comparison shopping, which can dilute the marketing message.

Others say they just don’t have the new product yet to put on display, or that their production runs are already sold out. After all, it can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to provide and properly staff a display at a large auto show like Toronto.

But a few brands have returned, including Ford and Lincoln, which were noticeably absent last year.

“Ford really had a feeling of missing out last year,” says the show’s general manager, Jason Campbell. “They came and saw the huge success and the numbers of people coming through, and they’ve rejoined the show and we’re happy to have them back.”

Porsche will also return with its own booth this year – the largest display it’s ever brought to the show.

“Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the ‘Cobble Beach presents 75 Years of Porsche’ display in 2023, we wanted to return with more Porsche news, and launches, including the Porsche Experience Centre Toronto [a two-kilometre outdoor driving circuit in Pickering, Ont.] later this year,” says spokesman Patrick Saint-Pierre. “We are eager to share this excitement with the hundreds of thousands of people with a passion for cars who attend the show.”

Campbell says he’s encouraged by the support of the brands that will exhibit their vehicles at the show this year.

“It’s a staged return to what I would call normalcy,” he says. “I think we’ll get there, but it’ll take a couple of years. The brands that are very heavily focused and well down the road on electrification have expressed great interest in participating, because of the focus on EVs at the show. And some of those that are not so advanced on that have decided to sit back a little bit.

“We’d love to have everybody back. The people who have returned this year have shown us you can do so much with digital [marketing], but you really want bums in seats to go the final mile, and that’s what the show delivers.”

The show runs from Feb. 16 – 25 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

This article was originally published by a www.theglobeandmail.com . Read the Original article here. .

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