Revving up the future: the 2024 Toronto International AutoShow
How this year’s auto show is driving innovation and redefining marketing in the automobile industry.

The 2024 Canadian International AutoShow came back and was better than ever. This past February, automotive enthusiasts had the chance to see the latest innovations and trends in the industry at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  

Founded in 1974, the auto show is an annual display of the latest cars and has grown to become Canada’s largest auto show and one of the most important automotive exhibitions in North America, garnering hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. 

Given the significance of the auto show and the volume of eyes it can bring to a company, it is even more interesting that certain brands chose to skip this year’s auto show. Popular brands such as Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Volkswagen all opted to skip the 2024 edition of the event. Even brands such as BMW have significantly scaled back their presence, displaying only one car this year. 

Mercedes-Benz, who has been skipping the event for a few years now, believes that with today’s internet and digital marketing culture, the auto show is an outdated form of marketing and that the company’s time and resources are better used elsewhere. 

For many fans of the auto show, brands skipping out on the event is disappointing. I remember going to the show as a kid and looking forward to the Mercedes section since we’d have access to the VIP lounge because my grandfather worked for them. Experiences such as this were fun and seeing the cars in person inspired me as a kid, and I’m sure, inspired many others. Perhaps this shift in marketing approach is evidence of the growing trends of digital marketing, moving away from tangible or in-person forms of marketing toward a cheaper and sometimes more efficient form. However, for kids like me who grew up going to the auto show, it will always be a unique platform and a great experience. 

Christopher Pfaff, Chief Executive Officer of Pfaff Automotive, believes that the auto show remains a valuable form of marketing and that having a presence at the show still has value.

“I can’t quantify the payoff for this [AutoShow display], but I really think there is a payoff. I think it’s really important that you see this stuff. So we’re really happy to be here,” Pfaff said in an interview for The Globe and Mail.

Pfaff displayed approximately C$30 million in cars from Pfaff dealerships, ranging from McLarens to Paganis and even a pink Porsche Taycan with a rare body kit. 

It’s safe to say Pfaff had a distinct presence at this year’s auto show, garnering many eyes toward its brand and showing consumers how special its products are. Other standouts from this year’s show included Mattel, who had Hot Wheels celebrating five decades of its existence, and the famous 1957 Chevrolet Corvette from 2023’s Barbie movie. With these displays, Mattel aimed to connect with the consumer’s inner child, focusing on nostalgia for its showcase.

Jeep also had a strong presence this year. Dubbed Camp Jeep, its showcase included an interactive experience where participants were driven through a man-made, off-road obstacle course designed to highlight Jeep’s off-road capabilities and how fun its cars are to drive. Jeep leaned on an experiential marketing method for its showcase and judging by the length of the lines for the obstacle course, the company was extremely successful in this attempt.

While innovative marketing techniques were a standout for the 2024 auto show, the event also displayed the future of the automotive industry with a prominent selection of electric vehicles (EVs). This year’s show included an extensive indoor EV Test Track where participants had the opportunity to experience driving EVs and get a firsthand look at the future of automobiles. Meanwhile, an outdoor test drive option has been a popular attraction at the event since debuting in 2020. And the Electric City attraction also returned, serving as a comprehensive hub for everything consumers need to know about the future of driving and EVs. 

The 2024 Canadian International AutoShow serves as a reminder of the divergent landscape of marketing approaches among automotive brands and a glimpse into the future of cars and the automotive industry. While some powerhouse brands chose to opt out of the event, others embraced it and leveraged the platform to showcase their models and allow consumers to engage with their products. Automotive enthusiasts can now look forward to next year’s show, where the multi-faceted experience will shed further light on the shared interest in cars and the automotive industry. 

Sports & Health Editor (Volume 50); Locked on Leafs Columnist (Volume 48 & 49) — Omar is in his final year at UTM, working towards completing a major in CCIT and double minors in Political Science and Anthropology. Omar loves to keep up with various sports teams, his favourite being the Toronto Maple Leafs. When he isn’t stressing over exams or the Leafs, you can find him watching movies, looking at shoes he can only hope to afford, and trying his best to avoid parking tickets on campus.


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