Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Auto Shows Bring Dividends in Sales

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Auto Shows Bring Dividends in Sales

Article excerpt

Want to celebrate consumption and witness the industrial economy? Visit an auto show.

At convention centers and exhibit halls from Bangkok to Brussels, automakers and their dealers are putting on pageants to the machine that changed the world. From late fall to early winter - the season when new cars and trucks are introduced - the international auto industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars to sponsor auto shows in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Some shows, like the one recently ended in Detroit, are closely watched by economists who try to gauge the public's enthusiasm. When many potential buyers show up to gawk, the economy may be getting ready to grow. Detroit drew nearly 700,000 people this year, third-highest ever and a sign that the economy is doing well.

Smaller but still significant, auto shows like the one to be held in St. Louis next month may not be an economic indicator. But they do mean money for scores of auto dealers.

"It will improve business for three or four months," said Don Gilbert, spokesman for the Greater St. Louis Automotive Association. He said dealers can expect to sell 300 to 400 cars and trucks during the course of the St. Louis show, and many more in the weeks after it ends. (See page 14 for details.)

Gilbert says the show is as much for the convenience of the public as for the enrichment of the auto dealers.

"It saves people a lot of shopping," he said. "Where else can somebody see all the cars in one place?"

About 160 auto dealers in Missouri and Illinois will be at the show, offering models from practically all of the world's automakers.

The St. Louis show is among the longest-running in the country. The first auto show was held here in 1908, about a decade after "manufacturers" in the city began hand-building cars for sale.

While it doesn't rival the Tokyo show, the Greater St. Louis International Auto Show is among the big shows of North America.

"There are a couple of shows that are major - Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago are the biggest. …

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