The New Mexico International Auto Show is back for the 11th year and, with it, “Luxury Hall” – a separate space for ritzy rides, some of which cost more than twice the state’s median household income.
During the three-day event, the Albuquerque Convention Center becomes a fantasy land for some attendees – especially since this is not a selling show, and a $10 ticket offers access to vehicles most drivers wouldn’t otherwise experience.
“Serious buyers spend a lot of time comparison shopping to see what they’re going to put their investment into,” said Charles Henson, president of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association, the show’s sponsor. “The people that are perhaps a little bit further away from actually purchasing a car tend to do quite a bit more daydreaming.”
Manufacturers represented in Luxury Hall include BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.
The most expensive cars on display likely will come from the Mercedes-Benz SL class or Porsche 911 series, according to Shaun Foley, a spokesman for show producer Motor Trend.
Though Foley can’t say which exact models will be on display, it’s worth noting the 2014 Mercedes SL-Class Roadster starts with an MSRP of $106,700.
But even in the Luxury Hall, most cars remain unlocked for attendees to see, touch and smell.
“There are some exceptions, but for the most part we try to make those as accessible as any of (the other) cars,” Henson said.
With 60-70 vehicles, Luxury Hall represents just a portion of the overall show. This year’s event encompasses more than 300 automobiles from 30 different domestic and foreign manufacturers.
Some of the cars, Henson noted, come with price tags closer to $12,000-$14,000.
New Mexico may be big on big vehicles -Henson said passenger cars make up just 30 percent of sales here, while the rest are trucks, vans, SUVs and the like – but the show will highlight a diverse selection. The array includes hulking pickups, alternative-fuel vehicles that can get more than 50 mpg and many options that fall somewhere in between.
The show also features some cars not yet in dealerships, including the 2015 Ford Mustang and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.
In addition to examining the cars on the convention center floor, attendees also will have an opportunity to test-drive a few dozen different models. Those may include the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Fiat 500, Ford Mustang GT, Ford F-150 and the GMC Sierra.
While there is no on-site selling, Henson said the automakers send expert staff people who can answer questions about the vehicles.
“What we want to do is generate excitement about automobiles,” he said.
The idea, of course, is that show-goers will flock to car dealerships afterward to make purchases.
Though Henson was unable to quantify the show’s typical impact on dealerships, he said auto sales in New Mexico have been trending upward the past few years.
He estimated that 2014 year-to-date sales were 9-13 percent better than last year.
New Mexico International Auto Show
Friday-Sunday at the Albuquerque Convention Center
$10 adults, $5 for seniors, military and children 6-12
Buy tickets online at NewMexicoAutoShow.com and save $1 on adult tickets; participating Sonic Drive-Ins in Albuquerque are offering passes for free Friday admission while supplies last