The Twin Cities Auto Show is adding an extra day to its March 2020 show so it can host a new National Truck Summit aimed at educating truck makers, designers and marketers about what consumers really want from the most popular vehicles dealers sell in Minnesota.
The new truck summit means the event will run for nine days at the Minneapolis Convention Center, officials said on Monday. The show typically features more than 625 vehicles from more than 35 brands.
Scott Lambert, president of the Greater Metro Auto Dealers Association, said the group expects an additional 200 to 300 attendees at this year's show, which will be the Twin Cities' 47th. The event typically attracts 130,000 dealers, manufacturer representatives and attendees from around the Midwest.
The association partnered with Automotive News to add the truck summit, which is expected to "focus on consumers' growing love of trucks and crossovers," Lambert said.
One of the reasons behind the summit: Truck makers know their vehicles sell well in Minnesota but not necessarily why. Focus groups and studies are being conducted to see what factors are considered beyond the need to handle Minnesota winters and Minnesotans' love for the outdoors, thus hauling boats, hockey equipment and more.
"The new summit will focus on a lot of statistics of what consumers are looking for and what is being delivered that really seems to work," Lambert said.
The heavily attended auto show already contributes $19 million to Minnesota's economy each year. The show's economic impact was recently tabulated by the University of Minnesota at the request of the auto dealers' association.
Lambert said the findings were "a pleasant surprise."
In releasing the results Monday, U economics Prof. Amil Petrin noted that the economic impact "is both significant and wide-reaching," especially since the event only lasts a little more than a week.
The economic impact factored in what auto dealers spend to haul and showcase vehicles.
The study also looked at spending that includes the show's ticket and concession sales, money spent on hotel stays or Airbnb rentals and other events visitors took in such as theater, shopping downtown and at the Mall of America, and sporting events. Visitors spent more than $10.5 million on those items and an additional $670,000 on parking.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, at Monday's news conference announcing the show's expansion, said that the event's economic benefit shows "the real impact we can have by making sure Minneapolis continues to be a place where people and events connect."
Barb Hilbert, the auto association's vice chairwoman and Luther Automotive Group's chief financial officer, said the auto show is important to the organization and the region.
"We work hard each year to make this show something that is very special," she said. "The results of the study are another way to see the overall results."
The auto show will run March 7-15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Lambert said the economic impact tabulated by the U might actually be conservative because it counts only spending during the eight or nine days of the show.
"I think we all underestimated the small army who comes in to set up the show and work the displays," Lambert said. When everything is counted, the show "is not only a weeklong event. With all the display and prep people, it's more like a 2½-week event. So the $19 million is conservative."