The 2019 First Hawaiian International Auto Show through the eyes of a first-timer

by Robert Yang | April 3, 2019

You can experience sports cars, tuner cars, pickup trucks, classic muscle cars, electric vehicles, and more at the First Hawaiian International Auto Show.

I haven’t really been a fan of cars throughout my life, so I never really had the urge to visit auto shows when they’re in town. I drive my vehicle from point A to point B, and let the professionals handle the maintenance aspect of car ownership. However, on March 30, I finally found myself smack-dab in the middle of the 2019 First Hawaiian International Auto Show at the convention center, volunteering at the Hawaiian Electric booth. There’s a first time for everything.

A first impression can make or break an experience. When I entered the auto show, I was blown away from the get-go. I observed all types of cars — from the family sedan to sports and tuner cars to trucks and electric vehicles! I saw classics from way back, as well as cars that look like it had traveled from the past to the future. Some vehicles had interesting concepts such as the pickup truck with a preassembled camping tent in the back, or the pickup-Jeep Wrangler hybrid.

After speaking to auto show attendees and overhearing conversations, a lot of people attended the show for nostalgia or to see what’s new on the market. Some people were shopping for a brand new car right then and there. With more than 350 vehicles, there was something for everyone, so you didn’t have to be a full-on car enthusiast to enjoy the show.

The Ride and Drive event allowed attendees to test drive seven different electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the spot.

One of the features that stood out at the show was the Ride-and-Drive event. People were able to test drive seven different electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the spot! I’m not a fan of window shopping so this easily caught my attention. I had the pleasure of riding in three of the seven available cars. They were all quiet, packed with safety and entertainment features, and surprisingly had an aggressively fast acceleration. Looking at cars will start the conversation between an attendee and exhibitor, but test driving will surely move the conversation forward!

The Hawaiian Electric booth allowed attendees to learn about electric vehicles and how to charge one.

While working in the Hawaiian Electric booth, we had hundreds of conversations with attendees about electric vehicles (EV). With Hawaii striving for a 100 percent clean energy future, it’s nice to see that a lot of Hawaii folks are already considering or are in the market for an electric vehicle. Those I spoke with look forward to owning an EV.

The main concern from a majority of prospective EV owners is that they don’t know where they would charge their vehicles. Most assume that charging stations are limited in number, and presently only available at shopping malls or supermarkets. But in reality, there are over 500 charging stations across the state! Others simply thought that comprehensive work would need to be done to install charging stations at home when most electric vehicles come with a cord that works with a standard 110v outlet or 220v outlet (dryer outlet). I also encountered apartment/condominium residents who don’t have a charging option available in their building, but there are rebates or incentives available to help persuade building managers to install chargers.

All in all, the auto show offered much more than I had imagined. I saw a lot of cars and had an opportunity to speak with people about helping to move Hawaii toward a clean energy future. I even hitched a ride on a few fun-filled test drives. So, I don’t think this first auto show will be my last, that’s for sure.

Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.

Our vision is to deliver cost-effective, clean, reliable, and innovative energy services to our customers.