The annual Virginia International Auto Show is rolling back into town this weekend with more than 20 manufacturers and hundreds of vehicles on display at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
New models of cars, trucks and SUVs will be on view in a no-selling environment to give showgoers an opportunity to check out what’s coming down the pike from carmakers later this year.
The show has a good mix of makes and models and gives people an opportunity to get hands-on knowledge before some cars hit the market, event spokeswoman Deedee Taft said.
Cars that will stand out include the supercharged Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 and the fully electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV.
“We’re super excited to show off everything that’s new coming from manufacturers right now. The new technology is great and it’s a no-pressure environment to come and learn and kick some tires,” Taft said.
SUVs and crossovers are still dominating the marketplace, and Don Hall, the CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, said show guests should expect to see plenty on display.
Manufacturers have emphasized increasing the production of electric cars and finding ways to make them more efficient, even though those products make up less than 1% of the total market in Virginia, Hall said.
He said electric cars still have some barriers keeping people from buying in, such as charging infrastructure, but he is encouraged by recent efforts from Virginia lawmakers to address them.
“There is still the issue of charging, which is self-curing in time and we want to be part of that cure, but until it expands it’s still a barrier,” Hall said.
Transportation industry expert George Hoffer, a professor emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University, said 2019 marked the fifth straight year of “unparalleled prosperity” for the auto industry and the streak is expected to continue into 2020, said
Some of the biggest changes year-to-year now are improvements to self-driving and safety features with many companies still in the race for the first fully autonomous vehicle.
He said since the technology is advancing so quickly, the third-party vendors that develop the tech have to get it to all the manufacturers before they become obsolete.
“The technology is changing so quickly that you need to let everyone buy it right away because a better one will be out next year. In terms of safety, pretty much everyone offers the same features now, which is good for consumers,” Hoffer said.
The show, Hoffer said, also is a great opportunity for guests to get discounts from local dealers who will have booths set up.
In addition to the new cars, local car clubs will bring in vintage and custom cars for enthusiasts to see up close. Subaru has partnered with the Richmond SPCA and Richmond Animal League to have dogs ready for adoption on-site.