Detroit Auto Show Dies Another Day

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

We’ve already reported Nissan’s decision to take a powder from the hugely expensive business of cock-walking at Cobo. As the Brits would say, the other shoe has dropped. Honda has announced that it will announce bupkis at this January’s North American International Auto Show. It’ll show show-goers what it’s got– and that’s it. Bloomberg reports the reason: “The Asian brands are mired in the industrywide slump that cut U.S. auto sales by 15 percent through October. U.S. automakers led by General Motors Corp. are seeking $25 billion in federal loans to help stave off a financial collapse.” Cutbacks fer sure, but the missing message is clear enough: Detroit’s auto show is fading fast. The fact that unions have driven-up the cost of the show is one show-collapse-related irony. Toyota’s decision to stay the course and unveil new models is another.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Kevin Kevin on Nov 26, 2008

    Cobo -- you can see Joe Lewis there. And it's no wonder he won a lot of fights, he's like 12 foot tall. And made of bronze!

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Nov 26, 2008

    Wonder what would have happened if he'd ever fought Joe Louis.

  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Nov 26, 2008
    The fact that unions have driven-up the cost of the show is one show-collapse-related irony. Robert, You know I'm no apologist for organized labor but this didn't sound right to me. I've been working the auto shows since '02 and I don't see that the riggers and stagehands at Cobo are featherbedding and laying about any more than at McCormick Place. Just to be sure, I checked with the managing director of Cobo, Tom Tuskey, and he said that the only increases in labor costs have been standard cost of living increases in the range of 2%-3%. I also checked with Tim McGee, from the IATSE, the stagehands' union that serves Cobo. He said that the only increase they've gotten this year was to their medical benefit package and that they haven't had a wage increase in at least 3 years. If a company isn't revealing new product or concepts, sure, it doesn't make sense to hold a press conference. On the other hand, when the do reveal a new model or concept, considering it costs a billion dollars or more to develop a new car, and that individual concept cars can run into seven figures (Metalcrafters doesn't work cheap), the costs of a display or press conference at a major auto show is a relative pittance, particularly when you consider the publicity value of reaching as many media folks who attend the major auto shows (6000+ in the case of NAIAS). Ronnie Schreiber Motorobilia
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Nov 26, 2008
    # Richard Chen : “Come On, Bail-Out?” Named after Albert E. Cobo, mayor of Detroit in the mid 1950s who was the driving force in having a convention center and arena built downtown. I think it's almost amusing to see people talk about how Cobo being a shithole as if Detroiters don't know that the facility is out of date. To begin with, the region has known that Cobo needs an update and expansion for some time. The problem in getting it done is political has a bit to do with race (city vs suburbs), and who's going to pay for it, but everyone knows that Detroit needs a bigger convention hall, if only for the NAIAS. Sure, McCormick is bigger and has stores, restaurants and a 4 star adjacent hotel , but once you're on the show floor you wouldn't know whether you're in Detroit, Toronto or Chicago (other than the fact that Cobo has the People Mover monorail that runs right through the hall above the display space).