With the auto industry seemingly cruising along the road to recovery, organizers are expecting enthusiasm for this year’s Twin Cities Auto Show, which opens Saturday and runs through March 17, to be in high gear.
“The market continues to rebound,” said Scott Lambert, executive vice president of the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association, the show’s sponsor. “We expect attendance to be stronger than last year.”
This year’s show will fill an entire floor of the Minneapolis Convention Center, Lambert said, totalling about 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, or about 50,000 square feet more than in 2012 (which in turn was bigger than the previous year’s). Organizers expect to exhibit 450 to 500 vehicles, about $15 million worth of products from almost every car manufacturer in the world and definitely every one that sells vehicles in Minnesota.
“We’re still waiting to see what we’re going to get in terms of vehicles,” Lambert said. “There’s a lot of new product out for 2013, a lot of new models on the show floor.”
As always, manufacturers have refreshed their products with fancy new features. Popular this year are built-in navigation and self-parking systems. “The cars always get cooler,” Lambert said.
In addition to new cars, the show will bring back some favorite special exhibits from previous years. The Biodesel Green Room features vehicles with electric, hybrid and green diesel engineering. Luxury Lane displays Maseratis, Bentleys and other high-end brands. For those interested in beloved older models, the show will partner with the Minnesota Street Rod Association to host a display of classic cars.
Ever wondered what it’s like to take a rugged off-road ride in a Jeep? Get a taste of it at Camp Jeep, where a professional driver provides what’s billed as a “4-wheel-drive, off-road adrenaline rush experience” on a 30,000-square-foot obstacle course. Meanwhile, kids stay busy with a (less intense) Jeep Kids Course and a rock-climbing tower.
At some point, you may want to take a break, “stop and rest and listen to some music, chill out a little bit,” Lambert said. Head to the iHeartRadio listening lounge, which offers music via internet-based custom-listening channel. Live acts will also perform nightly on the Star Tribune listening stage on the exhibit floor, including Belladiva, Songblast and Divas through the Decades. Entertainment for kids and families will be offered during the day.
Popular attractions returning from previous years will include children’s booster-seat checks by safety experts on Saturdays and Sundays and a job fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday (auto show admission is not required).
Auto Show tickets are $10 at door (half price on Wednesday), with a $2 discount or coupon available online (www.twincitiesautoshow.com). Children 10 and under are free, teenagers 11 to 15 are $5. You can also get coupons at dealerships for $2 off Monday through Friday, or receive $2 off admission at the show if you donate a non-perishable food item Saturday through Monday and March 15 through 17.
The Auto Show offers guided private tours for groups of up to 25 auto enthusiasts, Monday through March 17, an hour and a half before gates open. Price is $35 per person and includes parking and Auto Show souvenirs.
Looking for an excuse to duck out of work early next Friday? The show will open on March 15 at 10 a.m., and the first 5,000 paid attendees will receive a commemorative Auto Show pin.
“A lot of people, we’ve noticed, like to start the weekend a little early,” Lambert said.
Katy Read • 612-673-4583