2016 Philadelphia Auto Show highlights a recovered industry
Eight years ago, the auto industry was more worried about staying afloat than getting ready for a trade show, said David Kelleher, chairman of the Philadelphia Auto Show.
“I was a car dealer,” he said. “In 2008 and 2009, everyone in this room understood what a challenge we were facing.”
At the time, dealers and manufacturers were scrambling to survive after auto sales dropped to the lowest the industry had seen in a decade.
“All I cared about was saving my store and surviving,” he said. “We [were selling] 10.4 million cars according to my notes, but I think it was closer to 9.5 million cars that year in the United States, which is just catastrophic.”
Thankfully, Kelleher said, the industry is now booming again. Latest numbers show the industry sold 17.5 million cars in 2015.
“Current projections say there is a possibility of a flattening of the market at 18.4 million cars,” he said. “But you know what, that’s pretty good. I’ll flatten there any time.”
As the industry competes, Kelleher said, manufactures begin to compete, and that is what is on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show.
“When you look around here, you’re going to see more pixels, more signs more achievement, on the floors of the show than you have ever seen before,” he said. “That makes me very proud. Throw in a couple of Papal Fiats and you got yourself a ballgame.”
Back for its 115th year, the Philadelphia Auto Show brings the leading U.S. auto manufacturers to showcase their newest cars and technologies. The show also features classic cars and concepts as well as one of the Pope’s rides during his time in Philly last year.
The show will be going on all week at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will have more than 700 vehicles on a 700,000 display floor.
“To give you an idea of the diversity you’ll see here, I drove in Jon Bon Jovi’s 2013 (Dodge) Viper, with 640 horsepower and gets one mile to the gallon and right behind me was the Pope’s Fiat which could drive from here to Cleveland on a single tank of gas. That’s the kind of diversity you’ll see here. A rockstar and a Pope. So whether you’re a Pope or a rockstar or somewhere in between, your next vehicle is here at this show.”
Along with the usual manufacture displays, the show will also have “ride-and-drive” opportunities as well as a lounge area with food and drinks.
The big news of this year’s show is the displaying of one of the Fiat 500Ls used by Pope Francis during his time in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families last year.
— Martín Martínez (@mjtinez) January 29, 2016
“Fiat Chrysler contacted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who contacted the Archdiocese (of Philadelphia) and said you can have the cars,” said Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families 2015. “With the auto show coming up, and the timing was really incredible, the Archbishop said he wanted there to be a legacy from the Pope’s visit.”
The other was auctioned off at the Black Tie Tailgate benefit for $82,000 and was secured by Michael Chapman of Chapman Ford. The proceeds will benefit four missions of the Archdiocese, including Catholic Charities Appeal, Mercy Hospice, Casa Del Carmen, and Schools of Special Education.
Check out AL DÍA’s photos from the show to get an idea of what will be on display. The show will run through Feb. 7.