Autumn in Detroit? North American International Auto Show Might Ditch January Date, Report Claims

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
autumn in detroit north american international auto show might ditch january date

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.

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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4 of 19 comments
  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Mar 02, 2018

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Mar 03, 2018

      @OliverTwist78 I can't remember. I go to France and Europe regularly. I know it wasn't 2015 because that's when I visited the Paris Air Show.

  • JSF22 JSF22 on Mar 04, 2018

    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.

  • ChristianWimmer 1974 Dodge Monaco. I’m a nostalgic guy and want one of these so badly.
  • Zipper69 I got the form letter from Kia a few weeks ago and booked a time for the software update.Took around 1 hr 15 mn and you get free nifty stickers on the front door windows telling the thieves you are protected.
  • Dave I also only support companies that don't steal my tax money because they are "too big to fail"
  • Da Coyote GM has been dead to me for years - since I want my car paint to stay on and things to fit. Matters not to me.
  • Spamvw My '02 Jetta Wagon is starting to look a little rough. Some of the plastics are degrading, rust is starting. BUT, show me another 21 year old daily driver that looks perfect.