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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.