It was a full house at the Ottawa Gatineau International Auto Show, and not just in terms of attendance for the longstanding regional show. Automakers showed up in strong numbers, too.
The four-day event, which closed last week, also had a near-complete slate of brands showcasing their latest models, an exception from a trend for some manufacturers to sit out car shows in favour of social media campaigns and other ways of reaching the public.
Only longstanding holdout Kia and some small-numbers brands like Rolls-Royce were absent from the March 21-24 show on four levels at the downtown Shaw Centre.
Attendance reached 66,566, up 3.5 per cent over 2018.
“We’re sort of bursting at the seams,” said event producer Peter Ginsberg.
Most displays were mounted by manufacturers, with the rest supplied by local dealers with help from their parent brands. That meant visitors to the Porsche exhibit, for example, could see current offerings plus new models like the revamped 2019 Macan crossover and the eighth-generation 911 sports car.
Mark Motors Porsche General Manager Paul Renaud said being at the show gives the “aspirational brand” exposure to thousands who wouldn’t normally venture into a Porsche showroom.
“There is a business case in it for us,” Renaud said.
At the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles display highlighting the new Jeep Gladiator pickup and Ram 3500 Heavy Duty truck, spokesman Daniel Labre said shows such as Ottawa and Quebec City are effective in reaching potential buyers.
“The percentage of the population that comes out is pretty high,” Labre said.