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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Organizers want to keep Greater Toledo Auto Show ‘one-stop shop,’ focus on buyers’ needs

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Detailer Joshua Pirrwitz, left, and Yark Automotive Group Detail Manager Karac Isom joke as they polish Jeeps before the start of the Greater Toledo Auto Show today at SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo. The event runs through Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for those 55 and over. Detailer Joshua Pirrwitz, left, and Yark Automotive Group Detail Manager Karac Isom joke as they polish Jeeps before the start of the Greater Toledo Auto Show today at SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo. The event runs through Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for those 55 and over.
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The auto show circuit has rolled into Toledo, with the Greater Toledo Auto Show opening to the public today at the SeaGate Convention Centre downtown.

The annual show features 25 automakers and well over 100 vehicles this year. Organizers said Wednesday during a media preview they didn’t yet have a final list, but it should be similar to last year, when about 175 vehicles were on display.

“I think the best thing about the auto show is that it’s a buyers’ show,” said Marie Gilman, auto show manager for the Toledo Automobile Dealers Association. “Obviously you can just come down and see cool cars, you don’t have to be in the market, but it’s such a one-stop shop as opposed to having to drive all over town, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.”

The association is expecting a good year for the 2013 show. Officials won’t release attendance figures, but said attendance was up 29 percent in 2012 over 2011, and an early Groupon deal for tickets this year sold well.

Most major carmakers have vehicles on display.

Though the show predominantly features cars that are available in showrooms, a couple of 2014 models are on display.

Ford brought its 2014 Fiesta, redesigned to fit in with Ford’s new styling direction. The newest version of Ford’s smallest car goes on sale this spring. The subcompact will come with a variety of engine options, including a turbocharged 1.0-liter four-cylinder Ford expects to return more than 40 miles a gallon.

Ford says that would make it the most fuel-efficient nonhybrid car sold in the United States.

There’s also a 2014 Mazda 6 on the show floor. The 2014 model is redesigned, with a larger grille and a slightly more curvaceous look. The car has been on many dealers’ lots for some time, but just recently went on sale. Mazda will release a diesel version of the car later this year.

The show won’t feature the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, however. Initial promotional materials about the show said General Motors would bring the star of the Detroit auto show to Toledo, but show organizers said Wednesday that was a mistake.

Detail specialist John Hayden works on the windshield of a Honda Odyssey at SeaGate Convention Centre, where the Greater Toledo Auto Shows begins today. Detail specialist John Hayden works on the windshield of a Honda Odyssey at SeaGate Convention Centre, where the Greater Toledo Auto Shows begins today.
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Disappointed Corvette fans can take some solace in that a 2013 Corvette ZR1 equipped with the 60th anniversary package is on display. As it sits, the ZR1 at the show would run you about $127,000.

That’s the priciest car on the floor this year, but there are plenty of other upscale cars. Lincoln, Lexus, BMW, Acura, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi all have displays.

“For us, we like the show because it brings in new faces, people that maybe don’t understand how competitively our cars are priced,” said Jason Perry, general manager Vin Devers Autohaus of Sylvania, which sells Audi and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

But considering the market’s optimistic expectations for new car sales this year and how competitive it is, Mr. Perry said the show is important for all dealers, regardless of what they’re selling. “People are out buying new cars, and these shows are vitally important for us in markets like today, when business is good,” he said, noting that the average car on U.S. roads is more than 10 years old.

“Somebody that’s got a 6-year-old car, the technology today is quantum leaps above that,” he said.

Ahead of today’s public show opening was Wednesday night’s 10th annual charity preview gala, Cars Are the Stars X. Pat Stark, a board member of Automotive Dealers United for Kids, the organization that hosts the gala, said the events have raised about $1.125 million over the last nine years.

Mr. Stark said the group hoped to raise $150,000 this year.

At least 800 people were expected for the gala. Groups benefited by the funds include Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, Owens Community College, and Mobile Meals of Toledo.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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