The first of what will be 650 truckloads of displays and vehicles begin arriving Wednesday at the Jacob Javits Convention Center's loading docks, to be transformed over the next week into the 2010 New York International Automobile Show.
The event, which opens to the public April 2, is an annual rite that dealers hope will help jump-start the spring new-car-buying season. It pumps about $200 million into the city's economy, including 50,000 overnight hotel room stays for out-of-towners attending the show and related events, according to its promoter, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.
Exhibit space, more than 800,000 square feet, is sold out to 35 carmakers and other companies, said Mark Schienberg, president of the dealer group.
Schienberg says carmakers are watching their pennies, but that he still expects about 1,000 vehicles to be on display through April 11, when the show ends.
"They're not pulling back as far as the events they are holding, but they are looking carefully at their expenses," he said.
Research done for the dealer group indicates that auto shows deliver a return in showrooms, especially in the cases of shoppers intending to buy soon. Show organizers urge carmakers to display cars with doors unlocked to allow prospective buyers to sit behind the steering wheel.
Public attendance is expected once again to exceed 1 million, making New York's show traditionally the nation's best attended. "We're keeping our fingers crossed and hoping the economy keeps getting a little better," Schienberg said.
Despite a surge in business from the Cash for Clunkers program, automakers sold 21.2 percent fewer new cars and trucks in this country last year than the year before, or about 10.4 million, the lowest total in 27 years, according to the Michigan-based auto information company R.L. Polk. Total U.S. sales of new cars and trucks were approaching 17 million a year before the recession set in.
New auto technology on display will include what Volvo says is the world's first pedestrian detection system with full automatic braking.
"The car will stop itself if a pedestrian steps out in front of it and the driver doesn't apply the brakes at speeds up to 22 mph," the company says. At speeds beyond that, the car applies the brakes to reduce the impact speed. The system is to be available in the redesigned S60 sedan.
New cars on display, a few of which are being shown for the first time anywhere, include the tiny Toyota Scion IQ, a Smart-size commuter car, and an ultra-luxurious Bentley, the convertible version of the $270,000-plus Continental Supersports.
There'll be at least one new pure electric, a variant of the Ford Transit Connect commercial van.
And even some performance models are being shown with a "green" pitch: Ford, for example, announced recently that its redesigned 2011 Ford Mustang GT, which will be on display at the show and go on sale soon, has been federally certified at 26 mpg in highway driving, despite its 412-hp, 5.0-liter, V-8 engine.