Hoping to restore some of the event’s lost relevance, the organizers behind the North American International Auto Show will soon decide whether to move the Detroit carfest to a more palatable month.
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association began looking at ways to boost interest earlier this year, following Mercedes-Benz’s announcement that it would not attend the 2019 show. Not long after that, BMW said it also planned to take a pass. Bleeding automakers and facing a growing threat from digital media, the event’s increasingly grim situation called for desperate measures.
It’s now looking like next year’s show will indeed be the last one staged in January. However, General Motors has its own idea for how to spruce up the show — one that involves the entire city.
In an email to The Detroit News, DADA implied a move to October would lead to reduced labor and set-up costs. Also, the Cobo Center’s HVAC system wouldn’t get the same strenuous workout than if the show was held mid-summer.
“Our board and team are still doing our due diligence of exploring potential date opportunities for NAIAS,” spokesman Max Muncey said. “As you can imagine, this involves countless meetings with our key stakeholders around the world. Our ultimate goal is to provide a global stage for participating brands that delivers opportunities and experiences that only Detroit can offer.”
Tony Cervone, senior vice president of global communications for General Motors, would prefer to see an event that’s focused more on the buyer, as well as the city. Cervone’s idea, a “massive festival of automotive,” would take place in Detroit at the start of summer, with entertainment events and attractions spread out over a larger geographical area. Give people a reason to visit, then make them aware of new vehicles.
“In the end, we’re all going to band together to put Detroit and the auto industry into the best light possible,” he said.
Two ideas — one safe, the other ambitious. Place your bets.