DETROIT, MI -- Officials at the SAE 2008 World Congress said today they are expecting as many as 35,000 attendees at this year’s show and conference, being held this week at Cobo Hall here in Detroit, MI.
Now in its 75th year, the show and technical conference is the biggest of its kind in the world. This year, about 20 percent of the attendees are expected to travel from around the world to attend the SAE World Congress, and the show floor has been outfitted with nine international pavilions representing Korea, India, China, Mexico, Italy and France, among others.
“There’s no automotive event that comes close to this,” said David Amati, director of global automotive business for SAE.
Seven auto companies — Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW — have set up large “booths” at the show. All the automakers are exhibiting advanced technologies at the show, from hydrogen fuel cells to hybrid electric vehicles. To demonstrate robotic technology, Toyota even brought a trumpet-playing robot, which stages brief shows several times per day.
SAE officials say most attendees come to the show to beef up their technical knowledge and network with others in their field.
“A lot of engineers think they can get all their data off the Internet,” Amati said. “But they can’t get the networking on the Internet. They can’t get the face-to-face dialogue.”
This year, engineers will present 1,400 technical papers in 45 concurrent sessions per day. All of the authors of those papers are said to be present at the technical conference.
Six hundred companies have also set up exhibitor booths on Cobo’s show floor. Approximately 35 percent of those have come from outside the U.S.
Exhibitors say business on the show floor remains brisk. “The quantity of attendees has gone down a little bit over the years, but the quality of those attendees is still good,” said Joel Shapiro, group manager for industrial measurement and control at National Instruments, which has a booth. “The people who’ve taken the time to come here are serious.”