Event fires on all cylinders with cool exhibits and near record attendance.
As I strolled the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this February, it was hard to imagine that three years had lapsed since the last Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS).
Back then, we had yet to understand the full effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, nor the impact the virus and government lockdowns would have on major consumer events like CIAS.
Fast-forward to the 2023 CIAS (the show’s 50th anniversary year we might add), vehicles were on the show floor in droves and the excitement was back.
Not in a long time, have we been so excited to catch up with old friends and industry colleagues as well as meet new ones.
A big success
Although some OEMs chose not to exhibit this year, CIAS 2023 still proved to be a huge success. On the first day the AutoShow was open to the public (February 17), a total of 21,021 people attended—the second highest total in history and an amazing achievement considering this was the first live, in-person AutoShow since the pandemic.
Saturday (February 18) and Sunday (February 19) brought even more impressive stats, a record 49, 383 attendees on the Saturday, while on Sunday, the total was 56,122—besting the previous record of the opening weekend of the AutoShow, back in 2019. Not only was this totally impressive to say the least, it was also a fitting result for the show’s 50th birthday.
And why not? There was plenty to see this year. Key highlights included a global premiere by General Motors of the new Buick Encore GX, as well as a number of Canadian premieres, including the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander crossover; 2023 Dodge Hornet, Alfa Romeo Tonale and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 20th anniversary edition, as well as the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek.
On-site EV test track
Other special features from this year’s CIAS included an on-site EV test track, allowing members of the public to really sample what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle, as well as Electric City, which highlighted alternative, forms of micro-mobility and EV charging infrastructure, plus Camp Jeep, where attendees had the chance to experience the off-road capability of Jeep’s current product offerings including the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
Some unique and interest exhibits included the North American premiere of a one-of-a-kind, full-size LEGO replica of the Lamborghini SIAN FKP 37, that utilized over 400,000 lego parts and took 10 months to put together; a special Hot Wheels display that included full-size versions of some of the most popular Hot Wheels 1/64th scale toy cars, an amazing Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance display that highlighted 75 years of Porsche, with some rare and exciting examples of the marque; plus Oblivion, which celebrates 1980s and 1990s cars and culture.
There was also Project Arrow, an EV concept that highlighted the capabilities of Canada’s automotive sector. Project Arrow was entirely designed, engineered and assembled in Canada using exclusively Canadian automotive parts. Project Arrow clearly demonstrated that Canada continues to have an innovative and vibrant automotive sector, one that is capable of competing with other nations traditionally seen as dominating the space.