The 2019 North American International Auto Show will be decidedly less Germanic than in years past. On Thursday, Audi announced plans to ditch the upcoming Detroit show, joining its two premium German rivals in steering clear of the wintry venue.
It’s the latest blow for a marquee auto show currently in the process of reinventing itself amid declining relevance and automaker interest.
The 2018 show saw several high-end automakers take a pass, among them Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo. Increasingly, off-site reveals, plus the rise of digital media, have made floor space at the Cobo Center less valuable for global manufacturers. Still, the rationale for sitting out an auto show can come down to not having anything new to show off.
Audi debuted its 2019 RS 5 Sportback and A6 at this year’s New York International Auto Show.
In a statement reported by Automotive News, Audi said it “has had a long and successful history at NAIAS, debuting countless models that Audi customers enjoy today. For 2019, we have decided that we will not participate in NAIAS. We will continue to evaluate Auto Shows on a case by case basis relative to the timing of our product introductions and the value the show brings from a media and consumer perspective.”
A company spokeswoman confirmed the German brand will make an appearance at the upcoming Los Angeles and New York shows. Volkswagen, which shares the same corporate umbrella as Audi, plans to show up at the next NAIAS.
In the aftermath of Mercedes-Benz’s pull-out, the event’s organizers, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, began mulling ways to add some lustre to the fading event. It’s very possible the organizers will end up deciding on a change of date. Moving the show to October would not only provide pleasant temperatures for attendees, it would also push up the start of the U.S. auto show circuit and muscle ahead of the increasingly glitzy Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Recently, General Motors global communications VP Tony Cervone floated the idea of a city-wide festival staged in early summer, but who knows if DADA paid him any mind. A NADA spokesman told Automotive News that plans to “revolutionize” the event are advancing well.