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Canada: New models, new home

Auto show returns with more vehicles than ever in an upscale new venue

Snappy new Spark subcompact leads General Motors’ offerings at the show.
The Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto Show is back after a four-year break, and it’s hard to say which is more noteworthy: the 200-plus new vehicles that make up the biggest auto show in our city’s history, or the new facility that houses them. Ottawa’s jewel-like Convention Centre opened for business about a year ago, 2 ½ years after the demolition of the auto show’s former home, the tired and too-small Congress Centre.

Now Ottawa’s auto dealers, and the manufacturers whose vehicles they sell, are eager to put their wares back into the spotlight.

“The auto show is an opportunity for us, because it invigorates the marketplace,” says Ottawa New Car Dealers Association president Greg Stewart. “For a couple shopping for a new car, the show is an opportunity for each person to look around and discover what appeals to them. It’s a good first step in the buying experience.”

With its new, larger home, Stewart says the Ottawa Auto Show has “arrived, and moved upscale.” The result, he adds, is that the manufacturers are more enthusiastic about it, and have brought along larger displays, similar – or, in some cases, identical – to those used at the Toronto and Montreal auto shows. Stewart hopes this year’s event will attract 60,000 people, or roughly double the number of tickets sold for the 2008 show.

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