Attendance at the First Hawaiian International Auto Show rose 2.8 percent from a year ago as new vehicles and upgraded technology attracted motor enthusiasts to the three-day event that ended Sunday.
“There was great interest in the show this year,” Dave Rolf, executive director of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, said late Monday in an email. “There were more cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans on the show floor this year — 408 vehicles — and more new technology features in the cars than ever.”
The pace of vehicle sales in Hawaii has been slowing with vehicle registrations increasing 2.4 percent in 2016 and forecast to grow just 1.3 percent this year, according to the trade publication Hawaii Auto Outlook. But the slowdown didn’t appear to detract from the number of onlookers who attended the auto show.
”It was a pure joy to see attendance up in a year when we have seen auto sales leveling off in the mainland,” Rolf said. “That leveling off pattern is likely one that will follow here at some point in the near future.”
Motor Trend Auto Shows, which helps HADA produce the show at the Hawai’i Convention Center, releases attendance percentage changes each year but doesn’t disclose the number of attendees.
Hawaii Auto Outlook forecast in its December report that new vehicle registrations will rise to 59,250 this year compared with 58,485 in 2016. Toyota was the best-selling brand in Hawaii last year with a 27.8 percent share, followed by Honda at 14.3 percent and Nissan at 9.8 percent. In the U.S., the top three last year were Toyota (13.1 percent), Ford (12.1 percent) and Chevrolet (11.2 percent).
Rolf said there was added interest in the show due to the late entry of the BYD e6, an electric vehicle SUV from China. It was the first time a vehicle manufactured from that country had appeared at the show.
“We had many people at the show inquire about there whereabouts of the car from China — perhaps because the BYD was a late entry and wasn’t on the pre-printed show floor map” Rolf said. “But nevertheless, lots of people were asking about it.”