While auto shows around the world continue to attract fans in large, sometimes record-breaking numbers, they no longer have the same appeal to manufacturers as they once had, as evidenced by the increase of new model debuts taking place at separate venues or during private events at different times of the year.
Take the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, for example. Once the premier automotive exhibition in the world, it has lost a fair amount of relevance in recent years. Mazda, MINI, Volvo, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Jaguar and Land Rover have all pulled out, and they’ll be joined on the sidelines in 2019 by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
It clearly doesn’t help that the much larger CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas takes place just a week earlier in January, stealing the spotlight especially when it comes to electric vehicles and new technologies like autonomous driving.
A couple of months ago, a spokesman for the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which organizes the NAIAS, said plans were underway to “revolutionize the event” and provide participating companies “a global stage that delivers cost-effective opportunities to audiences.” They were announced yesterday.
The biggest and most significant change will happen in 2020 when the show moves to a new, more weather-friendly date in June. It will essentially become the final event on the auto show calendar, which typically starts in late summer/early fall and ends in the spring of the following year.
June is traditionally a quiet month in the industry, so the reasoning is that the NAIAS will enjoy more exposure and breathing room—not only figuratively, but literally. Free from the snow and the cold, organizers said they plan to hold more interactive events and exhibits outside Cobo Center including test drives and a street festival.
We think it’s a bold, but intriguing move that could pay off, helping the NAIAS lure some automakers back and bring more money to the city of Detroit than this year’s US$480 million.