German Retreat: BMW Joins Other Automakers in Pulling Out of Detroit Auto Show

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
german retreat bmw joins other automakers in pulling out of detroit auto show

The ratio of Detroit iron to imports stands to rise at the next North American International Auto Show, following BMW’s decision to withdraw from the event. On Friday, the German automaker announced it will join a growing list of automakers — including rival Mercedes-Benz — that don’t have time for the Detroit show.

It’s the latest blow for an event struggling to maintain its relevance in an age of off-site reveals, tech-focused consumer shows, and global online audiences.

Bimmer didn’t give a specific reason for the withdrawal.

“In order to communicate our ideas and plans regarding future mobility in the best way – and achieve the greatest possible visibility for our products, technologies and innovations – we are constantly examining our trade-show and engagements, while also exploring alternative platforms and formats,” the automaker said in a statement.

That leaves a fair bit of Cobo Center floorspace in need of filling come next January. Mercedes-Benz crossed NAIAS 2019 off its calendar earlier this year, with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche claiming the decision came down to the timing of new model launches. While the executive left the door open for Mercedes-Benz’s return, a Daimler AG source told Automotive News the departure could be permanent.

Other high-end automakers, including Volvo, Jaguar, Porsche, and Land Rover, sat out NYIAS 2018.

The Detroit show’s January date was always intended to get consumers interested in new models (and car buying) during a slow sales period for the industry. For decades, this strategy remained intact. However, the event, hosted by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, now faces mounting pressure from the Consumer Electronics Show, held just days before NAIAS in warm, sunny Las Vegas.

Increasingly, CES is the event automakers — desperate to position themselves as cutting-edge adopters of the latest technology — want to be seen at.

The pressure’s so bad, organizers are now considering moving the Detroit show to a warmer month. Not only would holding the show in October provide attendees with hospitable weather, it would also give automakers a new incentive for showing up. For a manufacturer, being able to debut a technology three months before CES means potentially getting ahead of a rival.

[Image: BMW]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Mar 26, 2018

    I've only ever been to the Pittsburgh Auto Show, and I'd say it's in decline. The number of attendees seems like less than ever. I can see all I want in about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. I still like to go, because I can't sit inside an internet car yet.

  • Focal Focal on Mar 26, 2018

    I've been going every year from Toronto since 1999. The first one was the launch of the New Beetle and that was an electric feeling. Over the years, it's becoming sadder and sadder. Similar to the reason I stopped going to the Toronto one since 1999. This year I went to the Toronto one also and was blown away at how good it was Not for the concepts but making the experience fun. Having really interesting exotic car area, a historical Porsche area, Hot Wheels, classics area, etc. made the experience better. Sometimes, it isn't about just selling but getting people in love with cars again. Entertain them, educate them while still showing them something unique. I may break my habit of going to Detroit in 2019 and just focus on the Toronto home show.

  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.
  • Sloomis Looks like 108,000 miles to me, not 80,000. Not much better though...