By on March 2, 2018

Anyone living north of, let’s be generous, the Mason-Dixon line or Ohio River, knows that January is probably the worst month in which to enjoy anything related to automobiles. Driving them, repairing them, and even travelling long distances to look at them.

Now, let’s say there was a car-filled extravaganza that occurred every winter in a northern city located next to a number of very large lakes and along a well-defined storm track. Surely, this could not only impede the enjoyment (and perhaps forward momentum) of said cars, but it could make getting to said northern city a challenge.

Suffice it to say, Detroit in January isn’t the most pleasant of environs, and the North American International Auto Show’s organizers know it. As concerns about the show’s waning appeal grow, sources claim the event is prepared to set up shop in a warmer month.

A month like, say, October.

That’s what sources familiar with the matter tell the Wall Street Journal, and it isn’t just because organizers are sick of bundling up against the windchill outside the Cobo Center. The last few years have seen a growing chrescendo of murmurs about whether auto shows are still relevant in our modern, connected society. Worse yet, major automakers are beginning to pull out of the event.

Following this year’s NAIAS, Mercedes-Benz said it was saying sayonara to the show, leaving a major section of the Cobo show floor vacant in 2019. Porsche and Volvo were nowhere to be found in 2018.

Toyota Camry NYIAS 2017, Image: Toyota

It’s an automaker’s prerogative — new product reveals can occur in any manner the company sees fit. If it wants to shell out for a press junket in some warm clime while showering the internet with information and high-res photos, consumers will know about the newest four-door SUV coupe just the same.

The Detroit auto show, first held in 1907 — in December, we should add — morphed into today’s NAIAS long after the Detroit Auto Dealers Association realized it needed to do something to get buyers excited about cars in the dead of winter. Motor City denizens would surely be more likely to hit frostbitten dealerships after seeing sultry sheetmetal in the flesh. Far-away readers enamored by images springing from glossy car mags would surely do the same.

That was then, and this is now. As automakers seek technological superiority in the emerging electric car, connected car, and autonomous car fields, the Consumer Electronics Show — held in Las Vegas the week before NAIAS — is now stealing a lot of Detroit’s thunder.

A spokesman for the show did admit organizers are “exploring opportunities to better leverage the how [sic?] and the region,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Speaking to the paper, Scott LaRiche, a Chevrolet dealer in nearby Plymouth, Michigan and chairman emeritus of NAIAS, said he’s often asked about the show’s date.

A new date in temperate October would make more sense, he claimed.

Switching winter for early fall (if that) likely wouldn’t be a huge disruption. New model year vehicles are usually on sale by that point, and upcoming product not yet ready for unveiling could wait until late November’s Los Angeles Auto Show for a turn at the spotlight. As well, it would give the show a months-long headstart on CES.

If anyone’s raising major objections, we haven’t heard them.

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19 Comments on “Autumn in Detroit? North American International Auto Show Might Ditch January Date, Report Claims...”


  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    Chicago, are you getting this too?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I’m betting that winter rates for McCormick Place have a lot to do with why the Chicago show happens in winter. It’s a local event and not a nation wide trade show, winter weather is less of an issue as well.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Pittsburgh Auto Show is in February. You can’t move them *all* back to October.

  • avatar
    junkandfrunk

    I go to auto shows to look at a wide array of cars that I may consider buying, able to see them all in one day, instead of having to jump from one dealership to another to another, dealing with overeager salesmen and even driving from city to city. I get to see the car in person, sit in them, play with the features, and test drive if possible. All in a no pressure environment, which is something I’m sure the companies hate because they can’t sell me the car then and there. I’m sure pulling out is less of a “relevance” decision and more of a “beancounter with an brand new MBA trying to get a promotion” or “trying to reach the youth” decision. Spoiler alert, young people still like seeing things in person too.

  • avatar

    DUHHH

    Can’t believe the show’s time never changed, after all these years. Think of how many people in 1907 actually traveled from far and wide to attend that show – on dirt roads in their Ford whatever. Very few.

    While we’re at it, let’s move concours shows forward, to April and May rather than June and July. It’s too hot.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      We still send Congress home to tend to their crops every Autumn. It’s tradition…like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I’m surprised they didn’t move it to June, as DeLorenzo recommended, way back when the new car model changeover was in September.

      Now that new models and refreshes are revealed all during the year, it doesn’t matter, except for local dealer shows and those “international” shows with concept vehicles.

      The problem with October is the Paris auto show is the first week of October. The Sofia, Dubai and Tokyo shows are also in October, while the Frankfurt and Cairo are in September, so there still would be few, if any, European companies willing to set up thousands of miles away.

      A local Detroit dealer show for the Detroit 2.5 in January and the “big” international show in June make a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    This is what Peter M. DeLorenzo (a Detroit native) over at The Autoextremist has been saying for a while. Move it to June, and give up on the NAIAS moniker, especially since the European manufacturers like Porsche have pulled out the show – too close on the calendar to the L.A. show, and too expensive to build displays and put on exhibits for two shows held so close together.

    Detroit started out as a regional show, held in January to try to boost sales for the local dealers during what is typically a slow month. It just needs to go back to being a regional show – if they want to put on showy introductions for new vehicles from the Big 2.5, then fine.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The week after the Michigan-Ohio State game is out?

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    Sounds good to me. I’ve always wanted to go but being 600+ miles away I’m not going to drive and will only fly in winter if someone I care about is on death’s door because a frosty morning in Wichita, KS will cause my flight out of GSP to be cancelled . . .

    June or September sounds good, overlap it with Motor Muster or Old Car Festival respectively at Greenfield Village in Dearborn and us car junkies can get a mega dose of new and old car smell in a short period of time.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I did the 2016 Paris Auto Show in August and it was great, the weather. I think these types of events should be held when the weather suits human activity outdoors.

    But, what about the vehicle design, release cycle?

    Vegas should be the venue for the US (post NAFTA) or North American auto show.

    Vegas is geared towards tourism better.

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist78

      Um, do you mean October? According to its official website, the 2016 Paris Motor Show (Paris Mondial de l’Automobile) took place from 1. to 16. October 2016.

      Las Vegas hosts CES every January, which has gotten more popular with the manufacturers for showcasing their technological prowess.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    Growing up in Michigan my Dad drove me 100+ miles every year to attend. It was the high point of the year. I kept up the ritual with my son … until I didn’t. It got notably better all through the 90s … everyone was there … there were interesting world premieres … and then it started declining again as we all knew it would. I moved away but still attended most years. Until I didn’t. The last time I attended, maybe five or six years ago, I said never again. Some brands already had left, and they practically had the fudge stands back on the main floor. The “renovated” Cobo Hall was still a decrepit leaking pit which, except for the show floor itself, looked like it was in Bulgaria. The parking was its usual disaster. The few walkable hotels suck. And the salty grey slush was the same. If the organizers don’t move the date and if the city doesn’t fix the venue, it’s over.

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