Leap Year is Here

Leap Day is all about making up for lost time. 

As our Good Ol Earth takes 365.25 days to complete its annual expedition around the Sun, NASA would say that leap years happen because of a mismatch between the calendar year and our orbit. 

And with those discrepant hours adding up to 24 every four years, making the adjustment via Leap Day keeps us in sync with the seasons. 

Which of course circumvents all sorts of secondary chaos and makes it possible to have our celebrations on the same day every year.

Or in this case every 4 years. Happy Leap Day from Jen & Van!


The AutoShow—Now and Then

The Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) opened its doors to the largest crowd ever in its 51-year history on Friday, February 16, 2024. With exhibits, displays, attractions, and an indoor EV test track rounding out 650,000 square feet of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), there is also a new outdoor test track.

And for the test drives you can sign up, register, pick your time and then come back within a 15-minute window, so you have more time for browsing.

Canadian Premiers

This year more than 30 vehicles will be seen for the first time in Canada, several of which are also making their North American debut. 

The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Jason Campbell, General Manager of the AutoShow says, “We take pride at the Canadian International AutoShow to bring consumers interesting and unique vehicles alongside a showcase of the newest and latest production models that will be in the market in the coming years.”

Celebrating the automobile since 1974, CIAS started out as the Toronto Auto Show, at the International Centre near the airport in Mississauga.

International Centre, Hall 1

Bright Lights, Big Cities

I have fond memories of attending that first show with my Dad, Arne Hansen and exploring the vast brightly illuminated indoor expanse while taking in a seemingly endless review of shiny new cars on the 100,000 square foot show floor.

Back then, the former Toronto (now Trillium) Automotive Dealers Association (TADA), welcomed 85,000 visitors, a humble beginning compared to the 350,000 visitors per year that the CIAS has achieved in more recent years.

Dad was an automotive mechanic at Kennedy Ford in Oakville. In those days I had a Hot Wheels 24-car Super Rally Case that was never far from reach.

New Collector’s Edition Hot Wheels 1965-68 Nissan Silvia (CSP311)

While I was still in public school, my Dad hung up his coveralls and commuted to Teachers College for a year in Toronto, while my Mom took an office job at an automotive dealership in Oakville.

Dad did some substitute teaching at high schools before going back into the automotive industry as a Technical Training Instructor at AMC Jeep Renault, where he gave courses to mechanics from the dealerships on how to service the latest models.

Dad arranged for a car for his colleague Claude Roucher, an instructor from Renault Paris when he was here for a few weeks working at the local HQ.

They got on well, and in the end Mr. Roucher invited our family to visit his in Paris. We did, and got to see the L’Atelier Renault, the international showcase of the Renault brand with new and historic models on display.    

L'Atelier Renault, international brand showcase in Paris

When Chrysler bought out Renault’s share in AMC, the merged operations become the new Jeep-Eagle division of Chrysler in 1987, and Dad stayed on as Technical Training Manager. 

On the summer break from business school, I worked at the assembly plant in Brampton on the Jeep Wrangler chassis line, then trim & final. The next summer I worked the Chrysler parts warehouse in Mississauga. 

By 1986 the AutoShow had outgrown the International Centre, and it moved to its current location at the MTCC.

“To the south there was nothing because Bremner didn’t exist, and the Rogers Centre didn’t exist,” said Tom Tonks, former GM. “The most important thing was that there was Union Station, the GO train and the TTC subways, as well as all that parking.” 

From 1991 to 1998 the Rogers Centre (Sky Dome) was included as part of the venue, as it was again from 2001 to 2008.

Rogers Centre, formerly the Sky Dome

Dad and I continued to attend the AutoShow in Toronto, as well as in Detroit at Cobo Hall, until the mid-90s.

After a long absence from the show, my good friend Frank—a former automotive mechanic who has retired from an Audi dealership—convinced me to go to the show in 2020.

We also attended when the show returned last year but were surprised to see that several of our favourite brands were nowhere to be found on the show floor.

So the 2023 show was a sized-down event with only 28 brands in attendance. But for this year, the show has bounced back to its pre-pandemic footprint, and with 44 automotive brands now on display.

Unfortunately, there are still several prominent brands missing in action this year including Audi, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen. Compared to last year however, the expanded footprint, with 50% more manufacturers, is a big improvement.

AutoShow 2024 on Day 4

When I arrive at the AutoShow, I do so with a curated personal portfolio of favourite brands in mind that I make a point to see, and that list has evolved over the years.

Currently I would look for Aston Martin, Dodge Ram, Jeep, (Honda), Hyundai, Kia, (Mercedes), Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, and Volvo. 

“We're really excited about being able to provide a much broader experience for our consumers,” says CIAS GM Jason Campbell.

“That was the one challenge we had last year was a lot of consumers were coming, expecting to see everybody, and we didn't have everyone. But we've got a much better selection this year”.

Campbell is hoping that in the next year or two CIAS will be able to get back to where they were pre-pandemic, to have the fullest experience of all of the big consumer brands on the show floor.

Tesla Cybertruck

The theme of this years show is THE RevOLUTION. Clearly positioned as the car of the future, there is no doubt that the electric vehicle has reached an unprecedented popularity.

Back to the Future

The EV first appeared 200 years ago, their initial debut being in the form of crude carriages sans the horses, but by the 1890s more practical EVs became commercially available. Since then, EVs have traveled a long and winding road to get to where they are today.

As with the rollout of any complex technology, under the hood there will always be a plethora of shifting and sometimes competing factors at play, which can be broadly framed by political, economic, social, tech, legal, and environmental. 

Specific to the adoption of EVs, some of these factors include demographic, cost, charging infrastructure, and performance. Others involve incentives,  restrictions, and charging infrastructure. Fleet charging and logistical support, and power grid development will be increasingly important. Not to mention the innovation curve and demand for batteries. 

Some of the exciting features at this year’s AutoShow include Electric City, Canada’s Largest Indoor EV Test Track, the Little Car Company, Grand Touring Automobiles, Pfaff Auto Group, Auto Exotica, Camp Jeep, and Cobble Beach Classics. 

The AutoShow is the ideal place to begin the car-shopping journey by checking out vehicle options in an experiential setting, connecting with product experts, and getting an up-close look at the car, and having a seat. 

Story by Van Hansen. Header photo by Van Hansen, 1964 GTO on display 2020 AutoShow