Centred around the kick off of the annual Canadian International AutoShow in February, Cox Automotive Canada participated in two major industry events: the annual Canadian Automotive Dealer Association Summit, followed by the first annual Automotive News Canada Congress.
Just as the weather is warming, with more than 1,000 vehicles on display throughout the show’s Metro Toronto Convention Centre venue, the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) is considered the single largest auto showroom in Canada. And with over 300,000 car lovers expected to attend the AutoShow over the course of its 10-day run, the event has become the unofficial start of the Canadian automotive industry’s busy Spring sales season.
Now in its 5th year, and part of the Canadian Automotive Dealer Association‘s (CADA) 75th-anniversary celebrations this year, the annual CADA Summit is one of Canada’s top auto industry conferences. Leading experts thought leaders, and auto dealers convened for an intensive one day, thought-provoking conference that encouraged the exchange of ideas, networking and sharing of best practices.
I found the theme of this year’s CADA Summit, ‘Change is Now,’ particularly relevant to the challenges and opportunities we are experiencing within the automotive remarketing side of the business.
Focused on the disruptive forces impacting both dealers and the industry, I participated on a lively ‘Agents of Change’ panel that included Ray O’Kane, Executive Chair, Motoinsight, Tim Reuss, President of Dilawri Group of Companies, and Canadian automotive journalist Petrina Gentile.
Despite our different backgrounds and perspectives, our discussions invariably led back to the vastly changing automotive retail experience.
During last year’s CIAS, Automotive News launched a unique suite of news products — including print, online, and newsletters — all focused exclusively on Canadian car dealers, automakers, and their OEM suppliers. Building on that successful launch, just one year later, the first annual ANC Congress invited Canadian automotive industry executives, leaders and government officials to discuss vital issues facing the Canadian auto industry. And like the CADA Summit, the first annual Automotive News Canada Congress was well attended, with over 350 registered.
I had the opportunity to address the ANC Congress on the disruptive trends in the automotive industry that are changing the business today and into the future. Topics included preparing today for consumer’s needs in the retail purchase process through digital and advancing technologies in automotive including autonomous vehicles, car sharing and alternative powertrains that are both impacting our industry today and beyond.
In a follow-up Q&A with ANC Publisher, Jason Stein, we talked about the pressure on manufacturers and dealers to “hit numbers”, yet at the same time address future trends and changes, such as Digital Retailing.
In addition to the usual Spring sales excitement created by CIAS, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak to and engage with the attendees and media at this year’s CADA Summit and ANC Congress.
As these two events highlighted: There will be more change in the automotive industry over the next few years than some of us have seen in our lifetimes. However, I am extremely confident that Cox Automotive Canada — together with our over 25 global brands from around the world, clients and partners — will continue to lead the industry by transforming the way the world buys, sells and own cars.
Maria Soklis is the President of Cox Automotive Canada, leading the development and execution of Cox Automotive’s Canadian business strategy and operations and has responsibility for the existing Manheim & Dealertrack businesses in Canada, provides a supporting role with NextGear Capital, and helps the introduction of other Cox Automotive businesses into the market.