Detroit auto show to move to summer as part of reorganisation

24 July 2018

Detroit auto show to move to summer as part of reorganisation

24 July 2018

The Detroit motor show is undergoing a reorganisation in 2020, with a move from its traditional winter slot to early June just one idea the organisers are hoping will inspire more visitors to attend.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), which runs the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) says the change should help carmakers save money, reducing move-in costs by 30-40% and cutting setup time to three weeks from an average of eight weeks now. One reason June would be cheaper is that exhibitors no longer would need to pay overtime around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

The event saw more than 800,000 attendees in 2018. However, a number of motor manufacturers have recently signalled that big automotive shows are not in their plans going forward. The costs of such events and the increase in digital launches allowing them to reach wider audiences are just some of the reasons behind this.

Carmakers are also increasingly attending technology exhibitions, where they can show the latest vehicles and developments in areas such as autonomous vehicles. The biggest of these is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place in Las Vegas every January. Therefore, moving Detroit to June will prevent a clash where CES may take precedence in some manufacturers' eyes.

In a release, organisers highlighted that auto show dynamics are changing globally, as the industry undergoes its biggest shift in more than a century. With this, automakers are seeking out increasingly creative ways to debut vehicles and engage with consumers. ‘Plans have been underway for over a year as NAIAS stands ready to embrace this evolution with its move to June and provide a fresh international platform for hundreds of brands to highlight their innovations,’ it states.

“As we look to break out of the traditional auto show model, there is not a need to follow the normal show season,” added Doug North, DADA President. “The new direction and focus of the show will disrupt the normal cadence of traditional shows and create a new event unparalleled in the industry.”

‘We'd be foolish not to see the trending of what's going on in the industry and think we can continue to do the same thing,’ executive director Rod Alberts said in an interview. ‘We have to reformulate and reimagine what we need to be.’

The DADA also highlighted the benefits of moving the show into the summer months, with plans for the event to move outside the Cobo Centre and have automaker-sponsored outdoor concerts and vehicle displays along the riverfront plaza. Additionally, there will be presentation space and test-drive courses giving visitors extra activities to take part in, and manufacturers more opportunity to interact with potential clients.

Part of the inspiration for the renewal of the event is the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, held around July at the Goodwood estate. Originally a celebration of motorsport, in recent years car manufacturers have become more elaborate with their stands and displays, attracting crowds with interactive opportunities. In addition, the Thursday of the event is known as the ‘Moving Motor Show’ where consumers can test drive cars up the legendary hill climb course.

Alberts said he hopes to connect the auto show with other events happening that month, including the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, the Detroit Music Festival, a GM-sponsored weekend festival called River Days and the annual Detroit fireworks show, which is sponsored by Ford.

The 2020 show will begin the week of June 8, organisers said, about a week after the Grand Prix. The structure of the show will likely change, as will the official North American International Auto Show name, although no decisions have been finalised.