By on March 24, 2018

2018 BMW X3 M40i - Image: BMW

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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65 Comments on “German Retreat: BMW Joins Other Automakers in Pulling Out of Detroit Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I can’t imagine why they would not want to go to Detroit in January, having been to that show once upon a time.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. Me too. The center city is beautiful in a tragic and dystopian way. I rode the People Mover around the 13 stations (one way only, I was alone). Some of the buildings were open, and the entry ways were temples to capitalism, with painting and sculpture. There was a bored security guard at each who would let you in for a look. All the buildings were empty otherwise..the place was so desolate it had gone beyond “bad area” to “abandoned”. but you can imagine it with full buildings, workers, shops, diners, etc…all gone…..oh, and the weather is appalling there at that time of year.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Guessing you haven’t been to Detroit in a long time then. I live nearby, work in Detroit and barely recognize it when I walk around town. Bustling downtown, businesses everywhere, so much new construction and revitalization. Regardless, January in Michigan is aweful, no getting around that. Also, no getting around the fact that Detroit is about the least important market for every import manufacturer. Just about any other large city outside of Michigan, Ohio or Indiana would be money better spent, at least in terms of potential customers on the floor. I’m guessing the internet is far and away more effective than an auto show at moving metal. Auto shows in general might be in jeopardy.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          My wife is from the greater Detroit area, and I secretly pull for the city to rebound. The general gutting of the area has been painful, especially personal to us as her entire family still resides up there.
          As for car shows…I see them (sadly) as becoming less and less relevant as car manufacturers focus more on the tech and “connectivity” content than the actual vehicle all of that resides in. Seems few people care about how actual butts in seats feel and more “can my car connect to the interwebs and have cool infotainment systems,” which are just as easily viewed from a computer screen as they can be in person. Having attended many a show in Detroit, this saddens me…even if Detroit is January is rather on the brutal side.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I think they’d better figure out how to schedule this in an autumnal timeframe, or they’ll be left with nothing at this rate! (Although October doesn’t guarantee summer-like warmth around these parts, either, just as we’re still dealing with winter temperatures near the end of March this year!)

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This is a golden opportunity for GM to rent some Cobo Hall space and show that their Front Wheel Drive (FWD) luxury, well near luxury, errr Sam’s Club luxury sedans are just as good as German and Japanese rear wheel drive (RWD) luxury sedans. GM should really, really do that to show those who doubt the quality of their vehicles. Look SUV!!!!

  • avatar
    redapple

    Detroit auto show staff better fix this NOW. Wait another 1-2 yr and the show will be DEAD.
    I go to shows to see the exciting stuff which typically is European. I know everything I need to know about GM, Ford and FCA vehicles. I work on the programs. Also, I rent 30 different cars a year (i try never to repeat).

    WJR AM Paul W Smith talked about this 4-5 weeks ago on his morning show.

  • avatar
    Ralahamy

    “In order to communicate our ideas and plans regarding future mobility …blah, blah.’ Corporate Gibberish.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The automakers are killing the auto shows. Between the lack of interesting concept cars and the “leaked” new product before the official reveals, there’s no buzz at these shows anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” there’s no buzz at these shows anymore.”

      Maybe turnout in the US is sluggish as well. Much of what was shown was uninspiring. When reporters like Phil LeBeau and others seem less than enthusiastic about product, something is lacking in the product.

      I read an article that in Asia and South-Asia International Car Shows are very well attended, even with a steep entrance fee for both the automakers and the viewers.

      And keep in mind that industry forecasters see a decline in future auto sales in the US and North America in general.

      It could be that our best SAAR days are behind us since “pent-up demand” of 2009-2014 has been pretty much satisfied.

      What we need to stimulate buyer interest is a good “Cash for Clunkers” sales event which many dealers are now trying on their own, without padding the Window Stickers on their new cars and trucks.

      One local dealer parked a huge trash container next to the highway and stuffed some old cars in it.

      People stop by to see what that is all about.

  • avatar
    The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

    BMW has probably figured out that there’s not a very good return on investment in showing their wares in Detroit.
    With the potholes and rough roads which wreak havoc on 40 aspect ratio tires, a traditional favoritism toward domestic brands and the lousy weather, could anyone really blame them?

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      I would argue they view auto shows is a poor return on investment more because they have the segment locked down, since Americans will go into debt to lease BMWs and MBs, even the apartment dwellers.

      I swear the last apartment complex I lived in was filled with corporate big shots if the cars in the parking lot reflected the income of the people living there, but then I remembered they live in apartments and most likely allocate a large part of their income on lease payments.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Small German luxury cars don’t that much, and you could get a 3 year old off lease model for the price of a new Honda Civic.

        When you get to the $70k plus market. Its dominated by names like Tesla Model 3, Escalade, Navigator, Corvette.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This really only effects Detroit and it’s residents. For the rest of us it doesn’t really matter where they debut their new cars.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    So we have some things happening simultaneously:

    * cars are selling themselves based on how iPad-like they are

    * transportation is moving toward self-driving appliance pods

    * car show attendance is changing, both from the consumer and the manufacturer ends

    No surprises here. Nothing to see. Evolution happens. Move along.

  • avatar

    Are they going to attend SF auto show? Last year only Cadillac did not attend SF auto show. It was boring anyway.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Frankly, I really like auto shows, because I want to opportunity to examine the vehicle without dealing with a salesman.

    There’s absolutely no freaking way I’m going to auto dealers with wife and kid in tow to narrow down vehicle choices…and because my wife has a different definition of comfort than me, she needs to be along.

    No way she’s car shopping on her own, because she isn’t a car person, and will 100% get ripped off.

    Last autoshow we went to, what she found comfortable was very surprising at times, but what was hilarious was how quickly she forgot about different GM products. It was almost as if they were so bland as to leave only the impression of a lack of an impression.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Garrett,
      From my nearly six decades on this planet I’ve come to notice females actually are more objective in buying a vehicle.

      Here are some great male (generally) vehicle choices;
      1. V8 pickup to haul air and tow less,
      2. Muscle car,
      3. Bro Dozer HDs,
      4. Expensive prestige performance, etc.

      Women generally look at the cost of operating, managing the vehicle in different situations, etc better than men.

      Men are more subjective in vehicle purchases, I term it the small penis syndrome. You see some of these d!ck challenged guys comment on TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Wow, what a scathing indictment of trucks and muscle cars! I think Al’s Holden Commodore had trouble merging on the highway again. I know they stopped production in Australia last year, Al, but you can probably still find an SS-V somewhere. Move up to the big V8, Al, and don’t let them kick sand in your face anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Sub-600,
          I actually used to run a V8 van at the drags. The engine was from a Pro Stocker, then it was enhanced even more. In 81 it was pulling 12s on a quarter mile. This was with a 308 Holden and they said it was near on impossible with the engine to acheive that.

          Now, you can buy that performance off the shelf with a lot more reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @Big Al:
        There is nothing wrong with folks buying vehicles that makes them happy. Not everyone equates cars with appliances – and certainly not here at TTAC as it is mostly an enthusiast site. For a lot of people there is a significant emotional factor involved.

        Also, we really need to move beyond making snap judgments on people based on their preferences. Coming from the very PC land of OZ, you would never make fun of someones sexual preference – so why would you think that it’s OK to engage in stereotyping for any other preference?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “There is nothing wrong with folks buying vehicles that makes them happy.”

          Amen!

          Some of the ones I bought that started off making me happy ended up making me mad and sad when I tallied up the amount of TLC they needed to keep running.

          Now, at my age, I prefer appliances.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          carguy,
          I’m a believer in buying what you want, as I have done so.

          My comment is women (majority) generally buy with more logic than men when it comes to vehicles.

          Even where I work I looked around the car park today and the women are driving Mazda’s, Jags and other more logical vehicles. The guys are driving HSVs, V8 utes and lifted pickups.

          There is one women who drives a lifted diesel Nissan Patrol, she looks and dresses like she works in a tyre joint, not very “office like”.

          The reality to me seems to be guys place more value in d!ck size (status) in vehicles. Women use other means to strut their stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        “I term it the small penis syndrome”

        Well your not alone in using that trite perjorative phrase with every other person on the planet that doesn’t care for brodozers, musclecars and expensive prestige performance.

        To which I say the bug dicks of the world certaintly know how to have fun.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          raph,
          I actually own and drive a lifted, modified pickup and diesel at that.

          I’m sort of the odd one out in the group as I’ve actually modified my vehicle to achieve certain capabilities. I view off roading similar to racing and look for continual improvement.

          Many guys just go out and buy all this sh!t within a few days of buyng their wet dream wagon with little thought other than the d!ck enhancing aesthetics of their vehicle.

          Real story, at work, since 50% have true off road capable vehicles a group of us went off roading for 3 days. The guys with their beautiful d!ck enhanced 4x4s didn’t want to use them on anything other than a roughish track! Guys with stock standard 4x4s and a couple of use with modified actually tackled the obstacles.

          Wankers is what they are. You have the same sort of crowd with V8 cars, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          raph,
          When you meet one of those pickup drivers and they are p!ss!ng you off, state this to them:

          “Not everyone who drives a pickup is a d!ck, but every d!ck I’ve met does”.

          At least 50% of pickup owners will take around 2-3 minutes to comprehend what you stated, so it gives you enough time to run!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I know in Europe when I went to the Paris Auto Show, Ford dropped out even though Opel was there. So, to me BMW not turning up to an event in the US is really not a revolution.

    I think the auto manufacturers weigh up the cost to present at a show (which is millions for some) to the outcome in sales and interest.

    Media nowadays is becoming far more advanced, what about virtual reality, this is just around the corner in becoming mainstream.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Cars are turning into appliances. In about 10 years, they will be like washing machines. I don’t see washing machine shows. Do you?

    If Detroit expects to survive, it better figure how to make money on washing machine like cars. The current business model requires profits from heavily optioned vehicles with lots of bling. If this is not fixed, Detroit will be going down permanently.

    I grew up in Detroit, and I still visit. Detroit still has gasoline in it’s veins.

    I have a home in Boston and in that city no one even talks about cars anymore. No one cares. About 20 years ago,

    I have a home in Los Angeles. Still some auto enthusiasts in this town, but far fewer than 20 years ago. In another 20 years, my bet is SoCal becomes like Boston … no auto enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      jimmyy,
      I’ve been discussing this on this site now for years. Cars are not the ducks gut in manufacturing anymore. Thai made vehicles are of better quality than US. Anyone can manufacture a car.

      The problem as I see is the US is not producing what the “outside” world is producing. I know it gives some who comment on TTAC a hardon, but to survive these “appliances” are what’s needed. As goods become more appliance like makes it easier to produce in cheaper places as well.

      The EU has stitched up the more prestigious segment and leaves companies like Caddy, Buick, Lincoln, etc with little scope to expand.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        “Anyone can manufacture a car.” Except Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – Keep us posted on your US penis study. One word, condoms.

        German “Prestige” is overrated anymore. It’s just an illusion that’s slipping away and they know it. US consumers are demanding substance for their money, not cheesy overpriced branding with poor reliability and crazy expenses repairs.

        The US car market is exactly what happens when consumers have the widest selection of any large meaningful market, with the softest taxation.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @Jimmy and Big Al; SUVs are cash cows for Detroit. As long as people, to include women, like “the vehicles that aren’t outstanding at one thing but do many things well” Detroit will be hauling in wheelbarrow loads of money. Yeah can’t make a “brick on stilts” handle like a sports car but it can haul a boat/horse trailer, six people, and all their stuff in excellent hvac comfort. The only big SUV euro competitor is the Range/Land Rover. GM/Ford/FCA have better full-sized SUV choices. To be polite, both of you usually offer what is called “alternative analysis”, most of the B&B consider you two to misinformed at best and usually just wrong. My daddy said: “those who can, do; the others set around and talk about it.” Car enthusiasts just go write checks. Or people may be subtly seguing out of your pontifical conversations when you appear. I could be wrong

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Your daddy was right!

        Those who can, DO!

        It’s easier to criticize.

        So it is always better to have “done” something than to sit around doing nothing and criticize others for doin’.

        • 0 avatar
          Terry

          0 avatar
          highdesertcat
          March 25th, 2018 at 11:49 am

          Your daddy was right!

          Those who can, DO!

          It’s easier to criticize.

          So it is always better to have “done” something than to sit around doing nothing and criticize others for doin’.

          HDC, here is the long version, and I think it applies here: “There are those that CAN, there are those that CAN’T, and there are those that NEVER WILL. Then you have those that shoudn’t have been given a chance in the first place.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Thank you, Terry. I was aware of the context of the full version but it was very social of you to print it for the benefit of those readers who never saw it before.

            Thanks again.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        el scotto,
        SUVs are cash cows for all around the world, along with pickups now.

        Detroit and it’s wheelbarrow of money is very dependent on the way in which it’s protected.

        The US is like Australia, we never produced any real brand other than the most basic consumer products. The Europeans (mainly Germans) had done a better job in selling prestige. The Asians have done a better job building consumer driven vehicles. That has left us in the cold.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–Agree about appliance like cars and all purpose vehicles. My perception of vehicles has changed from getting excited about the latest design and performance to getting a comfortable, efficient, safe, and functional vehicle that I will keep for at least 10 years which is similar to my view on my washing machine, dryer, fridge, stove, and microwave. My wife’s CRV was chosen on that basis with a vehicle with one of the criteria s being a vehicle that is easy to get in and out of and efficient, and reliable. The CRV is even white because my wife wanted a tan interior instead of gray or black. As you know I have 2 trucks one being 19 years old and runs and looks as good as the day I bought it 19 years ago. I don’t get that excited about the latest models. I have not even owned a V-8 powered vehicle in over 16 years and honestly I have not missed it. We haven’t even owned a V-6 in 5 years.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      There are always cars to get excited about. Sounds like your desires/needs/expectations have changed. Not cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Jeff S,
      I’m sort of the same. But, I look at a basic Corolla now and can see how it’s performance and dynamics are so much better than any 6 or V8 from the 70s and 80s.

      The young now can just walk in a buy virtually any level of performance they want …………… with a warranty!

      Take my diesel midsize pickup, it has more horsepower and much more torque than many V8s from the 80s into the early 90s and I getting over 30mpg (US gallon).

      The vehicle world has changed, and for the better. But for this to occur we’ve made more vehicles like appliances and why not.

  • avatar

    Detroit is no longer the center of the automotive world. You could easily have that car show in Newark NJ.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The automotive world today is global; everyone knows that. NA is till one of the largest consumer markets in the world and its automotive industry pumps large amounts into the GDP of Canada and the USA. Many global manufactures, to include your “everything they do is perfect” Toyota have Research and Design centers in Detroit. Yeah, Toyota is in Detroit. Honda used to send manufacturing executives to Ford plants in the US. Knowledge of what you’re speaking of can lead to acceptance, and sometimes respect. Please keep that in mind when you go on a post-aa-thon.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I agree with everything you wrote but would like to add that things started to change now that China and India are seeing a growth in their middle class income earners, all longing to emulate the good life in America they were exposed to when attending universities like Harvard, MIT and Wharton Business.

        For political reasons and national pride the current administration is trying to get back much of what the US lost over the past 25 years but that will only last until this administration is out of office. Canada and Mexico will be hardest hit unless they can come to a new agreement with Wilbur Ross.

        But after this current administration leaves office, then it will revert back to the downward spiral trend of tax&spend started by Bill Clinton and his Great American GiveAway.

        IOW, what was old will become new again.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Biro

          Highdesertcat… funny you mention China and India. I actually think manufacturers from these countries can — and likely will — fill the space being left at the auto show by BMW and Mercedes.

          And, frankly, while vehicles from those countries are still a work in progress, they’re liable to be more interesting that what the premium European automakers are hawking.

          Meanwhile, as others have stated, cars generally aren’t that interesting anymore. That’s a big part of the reason I stopped subscribing to Car and Driver and Road & Track after 48 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            The automotive press will flock to Motown to see the unveiling of the newest Tata?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Steve Biro, there’s no doubt in my mind that “manufacturers from these countries can — and likely will — fill the space being left at the auto show by BMW and Mercedes. ”

            Even if not this time, at some time in the future, for sure.

            And in the whole scheme of the auto industry, it’s about time. Especially in the US where choice is King and a God-given Right.

            There are so many people in the US for whom new-car pricing has become out of reach. And even with the pro-active actions of the Trump administration, it may be too late for some, unless….. cheap cars from China and India.

            Remember that old saying of “a chicken in every pot” that morphed into “a car in every garage?” And later, two cars for every household.

            I’m old enough to remember when the VW Beetle, and the itty bitty MGs and Austin-Healeys were brought across the pond and Americans scooped them up because…… they were affordable and fun.

            People laughed when Hyundai, KIA, Daihatsu, Subaru, Suzuki, et al, tried their luck, but they scooped them up too.

            Maybe the time has come for those funny little cars from China and India to make it across the pond to America.

            As long as they are affordable.

            Maybe sell them through Costco and Sam’s Club?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Steve,
            China and India are the two countries of the 21st Century. There is little anyone can do to stop them.

            It will not surprise me what can come of these two countries in the future. I just hope it’s good for all, including the US.

            People like Trump can try and slow them down, but particularly China now has expanded to the point where it gaining a large enough internal economy less reliant on exports to weather Trump’s ridiculous uneducated leadership.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          highdesertcat,
          I do believe you must be taking some drugs. How can the US ever possibly claim to own what the Indians or Chinese have?

          I do believe some of you Pro Trump Nationalist should really sit down and have a good hard look at yourselves.

          What has the US lost? It has lost nothing.

          So, the US also lost beaver pelt trading from 300 years ago. What nonsense you put forward.

          The world has caught up to the US and in some cases overtaken, because people like you sit back and big note how great the US is rather than contribute to make the nation better.

          Why do I say this. Because every comment I’ve read here on TTAC is about you, with little giving. You are a leech on America.

          “emulate the good life in America” what nonsense. The EU, Australia, NZ, etc all have lives as good as or better than America. Why do they not want to be like them, or more realistically, they want to improve their lives. There lives are that hard they most likely don’t give a fnck about America, let alone want to emulate it.

          • 0 avatar
            pdog_phatpat

            Hey criminal, worry about your own country. No one cares about you relentless worthless opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            pdog,
            The guy tells all how he employs illegals. You might not be aware, but doesn’t this take American jobs?

            A great Patriot the man is.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Hey Guys,

            LOL, did you know that NM is a sanctuary state? Been that way since 1945. They encourage hiring illegal aliens, just like in CA and many other Blue States like NY, WA et al.

            They even issue drivers licenses so illegals can pass as US citizens, buy cars, open bank accounts and move freely to other Blue States.

            If you two knew what you were talking about, you’d be dangerous.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Building all those Tesla fighters must be getting expensive. Have to cut back somewhere.

    Plus the Germans had to cancel their new line of small cars. When Toys R US closes down there will be no where to sell them.

  • avatar
    sgtjmack

    August or September would make sense. Not only is the weather nicer, but more importantly, kids are going back to school and parents need new cars to trek them around town…

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    M-B pulled out of the just ended Atlanta Show…there’s no snow here! :-)

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “Pull out? Doesn’t sound manly to me, Bill. I say leave it in there and get the job done!” –George Carlin

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    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.

  • avatar
    focal

    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.


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