With demand for new cars way down, and U.S. carmakers in deep financial straights, the 2009 Cleveland Auto Show opens Saturday, with hopes of coaxing customers back into showrooms.
But as ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports, the atmosphere of this year's show may be markedly different than in previous years.
In a typical year, car makers all want the same thing as they put their glitzy new models out on the exhibit floor - they want car fans to be dazzled by new shapes, colors, and technical innovations, and to go away believing that a new car - THEIR new car - is nothing less than a necessity.
That's a tough sell in today's economy, so industry analyst James Rubenstein of Miami University says this year's shows are taking a different approach.
JAMES RUBENSTEIN: "The ones that I've been to so far this year are very sober affairs, very straight-forward. No frills. They need to give a sense that they're not wasting anybody's money, and they hope ....you'll buy their cars."
Gary Adams is President of the Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers Association.
He's confident the nine day long Cleveland Auto show will strike the right tone, and says the first requirement in today's economic environment.... is to make visitors forget the headlines.
GARY ADAMS: "Product is really what rules here. It's not about bailouts or bridge loans or interest rates - it's all about who is putting out the best cars and trucks to the American public."
This year - he says buyers are being steered toward cars and trucks with 'green technology', while the dealers are hoping show visitors like what they see at the show - enough to visit a dealership, once Spring arrives.
Rick Jackson, 90.3.