As the 2009 SAE World Congress in Detroit comes to a close, SAE International has announced proposed changes for its signature automotive event in 2010. The changes are being made with an eye toward improving the focus on new technology and networking in a “shorter, smaller, and smarter environment.”
Most notable among the changes for 2010 are a reduction in the number of exhibition days from four to three. Companies wishing to exhibit must go through an application process reviewed by a panel of OEM executives, including 2010 host company Ford Motor Co.
“The whole idea is to go to three days on the event and focus only on those exhibitors who have truly new and innovative technology and can qualify by way of writing a several-page white paper submitted to a committee of OEMs,” said Thomas J. Drozda, Group Director, SAE International. “Ford is the host, and they’ll participate, and we’ll recruit other OEMs to sit on a panel and look at these papers and decide, ‘yeah, that’s new technology that’s good to have at Congress.’”
While the exhibition is expected to be shortened to three days, the length of the conference itself is yet to be decided.
“Conferencing is still being discussed—whether it will go three or four days—because there are time crunches there that the technical session organizers may not be able to tolerate,” Drozda said. “We’re still working on that issue because we don’t want to shortchange the presentation time. That’s still open for discussion.”
While the number of exhibitors will be reduced, the size of the exhibition space is expected to be relatively similar to years past.
“There are 10 x 10 [booths], but most of the booths are 20 x 20 open; they don’t back up to each other. It will look like the supplier park is now,” Drozda said. “If you were to sell 100 booths at that configuration, it wouldn’t be that much smaller than this event. You’d have a lot fewer exhibitors, but the actual footprint of it would not be much different.”
Companies that are not able to exhibit will be able to be involved in the conference via several new sponsorship opportunities.
Also on the show floor, changes are being explored for the three theaters. “The AVL and FEV theaters are probably going to continue, if the sponsors want them to, which we assume they do,” Drozda said. “We’re definitely going to have theaters, and they’re definitely going to be the type we have now. Whether we add theaters or subtract theaters is up for review.”
Drozda concluded by saying, “We realize that the show is going to be physically and attendance-wise smaller, so we’re proposing that there’s going to be a payment for attendance for the event. We’re looking at different alternatives because the bottom line is that the exhibitor and sponsorship revenue will no longer support the Congress the way it is right now. Now, we’re at a crossroads. We have to find another way to support the show.”