25 Mar 2019

Highlights From An End-Of-Season Auto Show in Vancouver

Consumers took a break from Spring to look at some wheels
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The 99th Vancouver Auto Show took place in the Western Canadian city between March 19 and 24, with 400 vehicles on display for consumers and enthusiasts alike.

You wouldn’t think Vancouver, Canada would be much of a place for an auto show - though in the words of Canadian automotive journalist Zack Spencer, who attended the shows opening day, “you just have to stand on a street corner here in Vancouver to see the supercars and the exotics that drive on our streets.

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“Some of the biggest brands, the most exotic brands in the world - all of them are right here in Vancouver.”

To prove a point, vast swathes of the show floor were dedicated to brands your average consumer would only dream of driving; Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, Lotus and Bentley, while even larger expanses were taken up by upper-crust models from more easily accessible brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac and Acura.

The supercars and luxury models weren’t just for show though; make no mistake they’re being driven away from the dealerships in Vancouver.

President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, Blair Qualey laid down some numbers when welcoming the media on opening day: the new car sector accounts for C$16 billion in sales in British Columbia every year - 19 percent of all retail sales in the province, proving that “British Columbia's love affair with the automobile is equal to that of any other region of the world.”

 Overview

So clearly there’s a rich palette among buyers here, and a bit of a green one too - with 38 hybrid and electric vehicle offerings on display - the highest number yet since the first hybrid showed up at the auto show way back in 2011.

It was probably a Prius.

 Overview

Qualey said that along with the exotics on display, the city that bills itself as one of the greenest in North America had plenty of appetite for electric vehicles, so it made sense that the 2019 Auto Show would  “showcase the very latest in electric and clean energy vehicles.”

There was more than showcasing, with attendees offered the chance to test drive 13 electric and hybrid vehicles while at the show.

“On a per capita basis British Columbia is a leader in EV adoption in the country,” said Qualey, who noted that in other parts of Canada, when incentives for EV adoption are taken away, adoption falls away as EV’s remain more expensive than their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) counterparts.

Executive Director of the Auto Show, Jason Heard said that while the Vancouver Auto Show was a manufacturers show, organisers tried to ensure there was “something for everyone” with a well-rounded experience for all - including famed rally car driver Ken Block’s Hoonicorn V2 on display, and the Ford Econovan that was used during Terry Fox’s inspiring Marathon for Hope across Canada in 1981.

Spencer pointed out that the Vancouver Auto Show gets to showcase a large swathe of the new models released through the year, because “a lot of the big international shows come before us.”

“Because we’re towards the end of the auto show calendar, we get to collect all those cars and have them here.”

Those cool cars include models like the Jeep Gladiator - revealed in November in Los Angeles, and the Toyota Supra, which was revealed in January in Detroit.

Besides the hype around those models, Spencer also offered a quick pick of vehicles that he was interested in on the floor of the show - many of which unfortunately won't be reaching Australia - such as the Kia Telluride SUV which will be left-hand drive only and the Lincoln Aviator which Spencer described as “one of the most beautiful SUVs I’ve seen”.

Way to rub it in, Spencer.

There were plenty that would make it though - like the Volkswagen Arteon, the updated Subaru Legacy and of course, the Gladiator.

Four cars were unveiled prior to the Auto Show; the 2020 Subaru Legacy, the 2020 Genesis G90 and two limited edition Lexus models; the IS 300 F Sport Black Line Edition and the LC 500 Inspiration Series.

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